Clifton Movirongo

Government’s construction and operationalisation of the N$5.5 billion National Oil and Petroleum Storage Facility at Walvis Bay is set to be completed before the 30 November 2020.

Although the Namibia Energy Fund (NEF) financed project is not operational and finalised yet, mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo, said that government decided that National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) will be at the helm of running the facility which includes a fire station.

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are only going to commission the operationalisation next month, and by then everything must be finished. The whole project is funded through the NEF and Namcor will be its operator,” said Alweendo.

Quizzed on the necessity of the N$5.5 billion National Oil Storage Facility, the mines and energy minister told Windhoek Observer that it was “very necessary” for the storage of oil to be constructed, in case the ministry were to run into some major supply issues.

“It was necessary because when you are importing fuel to sell, what happens if your supplier of has issues and you are no longer able to import oil. So, it was decided that we need to have some storage facility where we can keep oil at least for 30 days. Even if we cannot import in that time, while trying to figure out where we could buy from, you have the necessary infrastructure in place.”

This comes as previously, the completion date of the project was initially set for 2018, and then it was further delayed to February, 2020. Alweendo said that the reason for the setback back then was because the Chinese contractors could not come back to finalise the project because of the COVID-19, after they left for China in December 2019.

Namcor Managing Director Immanuel Mulunga confirmed that the project is 98 percent complete and the facility will be commissioned by end of November.

“Everything is in place, we are cooperating very well with NEF, the ministry, with the contractors and the consultants, so definitely before 30th of November we will be ready to commission the facility and bring in fuel from the outside. This gives a very important leverage to Namcor as the national oil company, because we have a very small market share at the moment and this facility is going to help us grow our market chain and to export product to the region as well,” Mulunga told the Windhoek Observer.

In addition, Mulunga revealed that the facility is too big for Namcor alone. “So, we have come up with a plan to host other companies who want to make use of the facility to make sure that the facility does not become a white elephant. We have agreements in place with those companies that we hosted, and we believe can make an economic revival because obviously government has spent a lot of money to build such a huge facility,” he said.

The companies that are in agreement to be hosted and make use of the government facility includes Vitol SA, Vivo Namibia, Total Namibia and Gunvor Middle East DMCC.

The construction project which started in 2015 includes an oil tanker jetty with a 6430 m long and 180 m wide maritime access channel, various berths and tug berths, and a 1646 m long trestle with 155 spans leading to an onshore station. The project also includes a technical area on land, a tank farm with capacity for 75 000 m³ of fuel and a 5.4 km long pipeline.