Exploration business doubles Cape Town workload

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 1996, 12:00am

Increased oil and diamond exploration off the West African coast has boosted workloads at ship repair yards in Cape Town.

The yards report they have more business than they can handle and some have more than doubled the number of contract workers employed.

Dorbyl commercial manager Salvo Cutino said that since February 'our workload has been more than double what we normally experience'.

He said about 75 per cent of business now came from offshore oil exploration for countries such as Gabon, Congo and Zaire.

'We have had to turn away quite a few ships.' The weak rand was helping to attract business.

'But we are also the nearest port of call and there seems to be a bit of a boom in West Africa at the moment.' Mr Cutino said the Dorbyl shipyard had increased the number of its workers to about 450 from 200 a few months ago and the group was considering expansion up the east coast, possibly in Namibia.

This could take business away from Cape Town but Portnet's plans to increase container traffic through Cape Town would mean more work on cargo units.

Globe Engineering managing director Brian Bain said the West African oil sector had become 'a major market segment for the ship repairers of Cape Town'.

In the past, Cape Town had only been used for major repair work with minor work being done in yards in Nigerian waters.

'The oil business is spilling down further south,' Mr Bain said.

Political settlement in Angola had led to renewed activity while companies such as Shell were drilling for gas in Namibian waters once again.

At the same time, Soekor's oil rig destined to drill South Africa's first offshore oil well near Mossel Bay was undergoing refurbishment in the Simonstown naval dock.

'So what we are seeing is the influence of the oil industry moving further south from the West Coast,' Mr Bain said.

Diamond exploration was also increasing with several new players entering the field.


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