In a key milestone for South Africa’s oil and gas hub, the Industrial Development Zone site at Saldanha Bay is being prepared for construction, which is set to officially begin in August. Preparatory site work at the IDZ is expected to run until the end of May.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said the project was one of several being driven jointly by Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone Licensing Company, the Transnet National Ports Authority and investors.

“After the preparatory work is completed, site clearance and earthworks will begin. The actual construction is expected to start in August and continue until September next year. This construction work will include sewer reticulation installations, water and electrical service installations and roadworks,” said Minister Winde.

The feasibility study found that an IDZ in Saldanha had the potential to generate R10bn for the region’s economy over the longer term.

Minister Winde said the progress to date was the result of partnerships between all spheres of government.

“Minister Rob Davies, the National Department of Trade and Industry, the Western Cape Government and the local municipality have worked closely on this project. The IDZ will become a significant catalyst for growth and jobs and will play a major role in boosting foreign direct investment into the country.”

Minister Winde said that enabling oil and gas servicing, underpinned by the designation of the IDZ, was central to Project Khulisa’s drive to grow the sector.

“Focusing specifically on upstream and midstream services such as rig repair, this sector already provides 35,000 formal jobs opportunities in the province. Through Project Khulisa, we have the aspirational goal of adding up to a further 60,000 formal jobs in this sector and increasing its economic contribution up to R3bn, from its current R1bn.

“We seek to grow this sector by transforming Saldanha Bay into a world class rig repair hub and by equipping local residents with the skills they need to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise.”

Minister Winde said skills development was a key aspect of Project Khulisa’s goals.

“1,500 people from 30 different occupations are needed to repair one rig. We must encourage the development of new artisans, which is why we launched the Artisan Development programme, a programme we hope to scale up in the near future.”

Minister Winde said the average age of artisans was 55 years old, while the average of participant on the Artisan Development Programme is 23 years old.