SA’s largest refinery shuts down temporarily amid looting

DURBAN – The Sapref oil refinery that accounts for more than a third of the country’s fuel supply has declared a force majeure on contracts and is shutting down operations over ongoing violence.

Situated on the East Coast of South Africa, Durban-based SAPREF is the largest crude oil refinery in the country with 35% of South Africa’s refining capacity. SAPREF is a joint venture between Shell Refining SA and BP Southern Africa, according to its website.

It processes 24 000 tons crude oil per day and make 10 main products in 46 different grades. The Sapref oil refinery produces 2.7 billion litres of petrol per year, which is enough fuel to take 800 000 cars around the world. It has 160 000 km of pipe work (4 times around the world).

It operates at temperatures of up to 700ºC and at pressures up to 120 bar. Fleetwatch Truck Magazine’s Patrick O’Leary says the impact of the burning and looting of trucks has not even begun to be felt. He says that all products that need to be replaced will have to be moved by trucks, which will take a very long time.

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