Women-owned petrochemicals group acquires bpSA’s East London terminal

Fuel port transaction seen as a significant step towards achieving gender balance in the energy sector.
The Port of East London. The deal is set to see Wasaa becoming a key importer of LPG into the country. Image: Transnet

British Petroleum Southern Africa (bpSA) has sold its liquid bulk fuels import terminal at the Port of East London to black women-owned and managed independent petrochemicals company Wasaa in a landmark transformation deal.

Joburg-based Wasaa is a subsidiary of the Wasaa Group, which was founded and is led by Nokwanele Qonde.

The financial value of the deal was not disclosed.

Read: Investments worth more than R26bn in SA’s ocean economy unveiled

The companies confirmed during a handover ceremony on Thursday that Wasaa Terminals began taking over terminal responsibilities on December 6, 2021. Wasaa Terminals further acquired 100% of the terminal’s moveable assets and a 20% share in berth-to-terminal pipelines.

According to a statement, bpSA will retain the operations of its transport business operating outside of East London. Wasaa, in turn, will provide terminal storage and handling services to bpSA in the Eastern Cape port city.

Wasaa will also provide aggregation services to other broad-based black economic empowerment companies.

“Wasaa Terminals’ acquisition of the East London Terminal is historic as it marks the first transaction of its kind in South Africa where a black and female owned entity has acquired a liquid bulk fuel import terminal,” the groups said in the joint statement.

Read: Gordhan wants Transnet to secure R100bn infrastructure investment into SA ports

According to the companies, the deal will advance Wasaa’s position as an emerging commodity trader in Southern Africa.

Qonde described the acquisition as “a gamechanger” and says it represents an important step towards achieving gender balance in the local petrochemicals industry.

Commenting on the deal bpSA CEO Taelo Mojapelo said: “We are confident that this is the right thing to do”.

“This infrastructure transaction is an important contribution by bpSA towards the country’s efforts of empowering black- and women-owned entrepreneurs in the energy sector.

“As we hand over the reins, we continue to support Wasaa to help them get up to speed and ensure a seamless transition which is necessary for future success,” she added.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Qonde said Wasaa will not be operating the terminal as bpSA has in the past (largely for fuels). Instead it intends to utilise the terminal for its own plans, which include a liquified petroleum gas (LPG) storage facility.

This move is set to see Wasaa becoming a key importer of LPG into the country.

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According to the company, the deal comes after it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with state-owned oil and gas company Petromoc to improve and control its LPG storage facilities in Mozambique.

Qonde said Wasaa also plans to revive some of the decommissioned rail infrastructure to the East London port in order to deliver its products to other suppliers.

Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.

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