THE time has come for business to develop the necessary skills in preparation for PetroSA's proposed $10-billion (R82-billion) Project Mthombo, the oil company's chief executive officer, Nosizwe Nokwe- Macamo, said yesterday.
Nokwe-Macamo said the onus was on businesses to research which skills would be needed and to start skills development and training as soon as possible. She said it was PetroSA's goal to make use of local businesses and services during the pre-construction, construction and post-construction phases.
"There is a plethora of services that are required for a refinery. Those services we currently do not have at the level that is required.
"There is so much opportunity and there is so much work that needs to go towards the preparation for when the refinery does operate," she said. It is estimated that 27500 direct and indirect jobs will be created at the height of the construction phase and 18000 direct and indirect jobs through its operation.
"There will be benefits for all, including surrounding communities, labour and the business community at large. It will also contribute to the development of small and medium enterprises in South Africa," she said.
Nokwe-Macamo said the project would need services such as testing and analysis, plant support, mechanical support, chemicals, consulting, cost and design, monitoring, control, inspection, material analysis, corrosion management, pipe and plant services, liability modelling, refinery audits, risk assessments, tank services, tank cleaning, tank management and water quality services, and more.
"It is important businesses team up to capitalise on their expertise, on their resources, their financial muscle, to make use of these opportunities that are going to be difficult to tackle as an individual," she said.
Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Mcebisi Jonas also advised local businesses not to wait for government to give the project the green light before starting to acquire the necessary skills.
"Sometimes we do not put in the effort to up-skill ourselves, to position ourselves to benefit from some of the major programmes of government, and the result is that the benefits go outside the province," he said.
Jonas said the project would bring significant opportunities and benefits for the region, including job creation, long-term poverty relief and industrial diversification.
He said unemployment levels in the Eastern Cape remained high because the province had a very small primary sector, which only constituted 2.4% of the province's GDP.