Johannesburg - South Africa will start building a giant coastal oil terminal next year which its investors said on Thursday will be the largest on the continent.
"We are aiming to start construction by quarter two in 2014," said Gideon Loudon, general manager of Oiltanking Grindrod Calulo, one of the project's partner companies.
The commercial crude oil storage and blending terminal will cost around $194m (R1.98bn) and is destined for Saldanha Bay, outside of Cape Town.
It should be up and running by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017, Loudon told AFP.
The terminal will have holding capacity for 13.2 million barrels - the equivalent of twelve tankers.
"I don't think there is a crude blending terminal this size and of this nature in Africa at this stage," said Loudon.
His company, a subsidiary of world number two hydrocarbon storer Marquard & Bhals of Germany, will operate the facility in a joint venture with South African firm Mining, Oil and Gas Services (MOGS).
"Port of Saldanha is an excellent location for a crude oil hub as it is close to strategic tanker routes from key oil producing regions to major oil-consuming markets," the firms said in a statement.
"It is ideally suited for the blending of West African and South American crude oils."
The economy is heavily dependent on imports, over a quarter of which once came from Iran until US sanctions.
The Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, is still a significant supplier, while Nigeria and Angola last year supplied 41% of the country's crude needs.
The government has also made bilateral deals to increase its access to oil as well as storage and refining capacity for export to its neighbours.
National oil company PetroSA and China's Sinopec share a project to build an oil refinery in the Coega industrial zone near Port Elizabeth, due to come on line in 2018.
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