Universal African Lines South Africa (UAL-SA), a specialist shipping line to West Africa’s oil and gas exploration projects, tells Engineering News that South Africa is becoming a hub for the oil and gas industry of West Africa.
UAL-SA MD Haakon Røstad explains that the newly established UAL-SA operates from Cape Town as part of the UAL Alliance, which has established shipping lines in the US and Europe. The subsidiary will take advantage of growing export trade from South Africa into the continent.
“The aim is for South Africa to become a conduit for shipments from the Far East, South America and Canada into West Africa. We are also finding that more oil and gas companies are sending their equipment, rigs, vessels and subsea equipment to South Africa for maintenance and repairs. All this will serve UAL Alliance’s ultimate goal of tying up all global oil and gas project business into West Africa,” he says.
He adds that, notwithstanding the growing opportunity for South African businesses to export to West Africa, popular South African ports, such as Durban and Cape Town, will have to deal with congestion and other problems, as they are already losing business to smaller ones.
“Saldanha Bay is seen as a better option than Cape Town harbour because of the space it offers, allowing engineering projects to be set out before being loaded onto ships, and Richards Bay is considered as a better solution to Durban harbour, which is affected by congestion and sea traffic,” he adds.
The company, which opened its South African branch in June, reports a favourable market response, with shipping from South Africa into West Africa growing and perform- ing well.
Specifically, it reports an increase in the export of explosives. With decades of experience in shipping explosives to West African mines, UAL-SA offers local explosives manu- facturers an opportunity to supply African mining industries.
“UAL-SA’s export portfolio is aligned with UAL Alliance’s international activities, including explosives and other hazardous materials,” says Røstad.
“Various explosives are being used to extract minerals in a number of African countries, and there is a call for detonators and explosives. Negotiations are under way in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Gabon and the Congo,” he says.
The company aims to increase the frequency of voyages by facilitating more active South to West African trade and by pursuing more opportunities for two-way cargo and for the shipment of different categories of specialist cargo. UAL-SA operates a fleet of 24 multipurpose, flexible twin-deck vessels with shallow drafts, self-sustaining gear and a capacity of up to 200 t3, suitable for project cargo and the oil and gas industry shipment needs.
Meanwhile, UAL-SA has a number of projects under way. Projects lined up include a port development project in Ghana, which is expected to start early next year, and supplying equipment to the liquid natural gas plant, in Angola.