Energy Minister Jeff Radebe responded to speculation that he has been pushing for South Africa to invest in building an oil refinery in South Sudan, calling it misinformed.
South Africa will be investing billions in South Sudan’s oil sector and the minister briefed the media about the oil deal in an attempt to set the record straight among mounting questions around the deal.
Radebe tabled the relationship between South Sudan and our country and said the relationship was meant to mutually benefit both countries. He mentioned SA had been in a political position to support war-ravaged South Sudan in its social and economic development before he became energy minister.
“Towards the end of 2018, South Sudan invited South Africa to consider participation in the oil and gas sector in their country, to participate in a memorandum of understanding.”
All protocols were followed in the joint investment in order to bring value to the country and South Sudan, he added.
The country has a long-standing history with South Sudan, according to Radebe who justified that the energy ministry was in a position to benefit the country and was simply acting in the country’s best interests.
“South Africa was part of the process of the liberation of South Sudan. They had a relationship with the country at a high level and the country was deeply committed to ensure that there was peace in the country.”
He addressed the Democratic Alliance’s request for access to the memorandum of understanding, which he said was available for public viewing since it was submitted to parliament.
In answering questions on costs and if the projected costs would increase, Radebe said the project was at a feasibility stage where costs were only tabled. The feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of the 2019/2020 financial year.
He refuted negative allegations of corruption and mismanagement and described the media reports on this as malicious information intended to distract their objective and to sour relations with the Sudanese counterparts.
The department of energy had a broader energy plan and would continue to deliver on government’s broader imperative, he said.
In addressing a recent Sunday Times report on the matter, headlined “Jeff Radebe’s dodgy $1bn oil deal”, saying Treasury was constantly in the loop at all levels. The idea that South Africa would build an oil refinery were misinformed alongside the report’s mention of a R20 million investment, as only a capital investment estimate of R1 billion was true, which will be spread over 10 years.
The South Sudan and South Africa project intends to attract other businesses and the country would be in a position to hone skills and operate in the oil industry, which would provide different options of investment.
The country could sell oil to the open market, swap the crude oil with someone who has the grades that were needed or use it in the country’s product development and resourcing, Radebe said.
The controversy around the deal relates to the ministry’s role in the deal, which reportedly does not have the nod of the Central Energy Fund, which is meant to handle the project.