Karpowership firm due to provide energy to SA embroiled in Lebanon probe

07 May 2021 - 13:12
By bobby jordan AND Bobby Jordan
A Karadeniz powership vessel. A SA subsidiary of the Turkish company is due to supply emergency energy to SA.
Image: www.karpowership.com A Karadeniz powership vessel. A SA subsidiary of the Turkish company is due to supply emergency energy to SA.

The Turkish company due to supply SA with emergency energy is reportedly embroiled in a corruption scandal in Lebanon, where two of its ships have been impounded.

This follows news that the company was awarded preferred bidder status by the department of mineral resources earlier this year under SA’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP).

A losing bidder in the RMIPPPP is taking legal action against the department in the Pretoria High Court, claiming the process was flawed.

Karpowership SA, a subsidiary of Turkey’s Karadeniz Energy Group, plans to produce emergency energy on power ships moored in SA ports. The ships generate electricity using liquid natural gas. According to the company’s website, there are already 25 powerships located across 15 locations throughout Africa and Asia.

On Wednesday, a Lebanese media outlet reported that the country’s financial prosecutor, judge Ali Ibrahim, had banned two powerships from leaving Lebanon pending investigations into questionable commissions related to their Lebanese business. Sawt Beirut International (SBI) said the ships' arrest was a precautionary move after Karadeniz became liable for a payment of $25m (about R356m) to the Lebanese treasury “in case financial and brokerage deals were found”, SBI said.

ArabNews.com reported that the judge's issuing of an order to stop the payment of sums owed to Karadeniz and its Karpowership branch in Lebanon was based on “preliminary investigations conducted by the financial prosecutor’s office into the possibility of brokers, commission or corruption in the dealership of ships producing electricity”.

KarpowerSA and the department of mineral resources have yet to respond to written queries about the Lebanese investigation and its potential affect on the company’s business in SA.

Last month KarpowerSA vehemently denied allegations submitted to the Pretoria high court by a losing bidder in SA’s emergency energy procurement process: “We strongly reject the allegation of impropriety on the part of Karpowership SA ... We have every confidence that the South African courts will deal with this appropriately ... The false allegations levied by a failed bidder are alarming. It is right to have robust debate around the best options for SA’s energy future, but these debates should be fact-based.”