By Charles Tjatindi
The National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) plans to construct a bulk fuel storage terminal (BFST) at Walvis Bay.
The terminal will allow the company to import about 50 percent of all fuel products for Namibia as per government mandate.
The fuel storage facility is required to optimise operations and provide supply security with a 20-year design capacity. Bulk import of fuel products by tanker boats necessitates location at a harbour and Walvis Bay is the obvious location of choice.
So far, Namcor has identified three sites in and around Walvis Bay for the proposed terminal. The terminal will allow Namcor to store bulk shipments of petrol, diesel, paraffin and heavy fuel oil, which will be received via pipelines from the harbour at one of the proposed sites within the confines of Walvis Bay.
Although the proposed development has, in principle, received the nod from the Municipality of Walvis Bay, there are conditions attached.
One such condition is that the petroleum corporation conducts a screening exercise that takes into account the project’s environmental impact. This would entail Namcor consulting relevant stakeholders in environmental conservation, as well as residents concerned, on the proposed project.
A consultative session was held towards the end of last month, where community representatives voiced their concerns. Most of those present, although welcoming the initiative, were concerned about the proximity of one of the proposed sites to the Narraville residential suburb, which they felt could result in noise pollution.
Other concerns were the implications of the proposed BFST on residents’ health and the quality of air around the site. The site next to Narraville was proposed for its proximity to the harbour and low environmental sensitivity as opposed to other sites.
Another proposed site is situated on the shoreline to the north of the town adjacent to the future aquaculture farms and close to the proposed bulk cargo terminal.
The third proposal is situated some 14 km out of town to the east, behind Dune 7.
Typical activities associated with the proposed BFST include receiving and unloading of products from ships, handling and storage of products in onsite tanks and loading products onto road tanker trucks and train carriages.
The facilities at the BFST include several above the ground storage tanks, bund areas, pipe lines, pump stations and dispatch facilities.
Despite the environmental and health concerns raised by the community, the proposed initiative will also have some socio-economical spin-offs. These include the creation of new infrastructure – roads and rail – which will result in the creation of employment opportunities. Several service contracts with external service providers in the region such as engineering, maintenance and safety are also some of the benefits for regional residents, should the proposed project become a reality.
Established and incorporated under the Petroleum Act of 1991, Namcor is tasked with expanding operations in Namibia and across the borders into regional and international markets in order to build the parastatal into an integrated oil company that can compete on equal footing in the global oil industry.
The proposed bulk fuel storage terminal is expected to be operational by mid-2010, following an anticipated construction period of 24 months.