The national oil company, PetroSA, has bought BP's depot facilities in Bloemfontein and Tzaneen, in a clear indication of the company's seriousness about getting into what is known as the downstream segment of the petroleum industry.
PetroSA produces petroleum products, petrol, diesel, kerosene, fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gas and other products from its 36000 barrels-a-day Mossel Bay gas-to- liquids refinery.
The company does not have a presence in the downstream market. This refers to the refining of crude oil and the selling and distribution of natural gas and products derived from crude oil.
Instead, PetroSA sells its petroleum products to the major oil companies who in turn market and sell the products under their respective brands. Getting into this market would be consistent with PetroSA's Vision 2020 strategic objective of meeting at least 25% of SA's liquid fuel needs by 2020.
CEO Nosizwe Nokwe said yesterday the purchases allowed PetroSA to extend its footprint beyond the Western Cape.
"PetroSA has the ambition of being the leading African energy company. This begins with firming up our foothold in SA and establishing our presence beyond the Western Cape. This acquisition is the beginning of an exciting period for PetroSA," Ms Nokwe said.
PetroSA did not disclose the price of the depots. Spokesman Thabo Mabaso said the companies had agreed not to disclose it.
The sale of the two depots started late last year.
"The Tzaneen depot is conveniently located to support both the local and the Southern African Development Community markets. The acquisition will enable the company to fulfil its mandate of maintaining South Africa's fuel supplies," PetroSA said.
PetroSA intends taking advantage of the growing trend of major oil companies' disposal of downstream assets. Various oil majors have pulled out of markets in several African countries. BP, for example, sold its downstream businesses in Namibia, Botswana and Zambia to Puma Energy. It also sold a 50% stake in BP Malawi and BP Tanzania to Puma Energy.
Chevron and Shell have also disposed of some of their assets on some African countries.
"Divestments by the international oil companies from the downstream sub-Saharan market presented us with opportunities to pursue our downstream objectives. The focus remains on the acquisition of existing downstream logistical infrastructure, together with a desire to penetrate the sub-Saharan Africa markets," Yekani Tenza, former PetroSA acting CEO, wrote in the company's 2011 annual report.
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