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Sapref suspends production in Durban as BP and Shell consider selling

Orrin Singh Reporter
Sapref, SA's largest crude oil refinery, will suspend operations before the end of March as the owners consider selling the plant
Sapref, SA's largest crude oil refinery, will suspend operations before the end of March as the owners consider selling the plant
Image: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Shareholders of SA's largest oil refinery Sapref, south of Durban, have decided to suspend operations indefinitely by the end of March as they consider selling the plant. 

Sapref, a 50/50 joint venture between BP and Shell, made the announcement on Thursday, saying it would not affect full-time employees and safety remains a primary consideration. 

“This will be for an indefinite period, but with a restart possible in the future, including in the event of any future sale. The decision has been taken to allow an informed finalisation on the options available to shareholders, a sale option being the most preferred.”

Until a decision on the future of the plant has been made, BP and Shell are unable to commit to further investment in the refinery.

“The shareholders will use other existing assets and trading arrangements to ensure ongoing security of fuel supply to the country and their consumers.” 

BP SA CEO Taelo Mojapelo said: “We continue to pursue the sale of our share in the refinery so that it can continue to advance its legacy as a reliable, safe and productive asset. Leading up to the refining pause, we have put contingencies in place to ensure that this decision does not affect our customer-facing businesses in SA or our fuel supply obligations.” 

Shell Downstream SA country chairperson Hloniphizwe Mtolo said while the decision to pause the refinery was a difficult one for both shareholders, SA continues to be an important location for Shell.

TimesLIVE

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