BP Launches Fuels Technology Center in South Africa

South Africa is pushing for cleaner fuels, and oil and gas giant BP is a key player in that effort.  BP announced on Monday that it is launching a $5.7 million Fuels Technology Center. The Center, located in Kyalami, Johannesburg, is one of only four similar major fuel technology facilities around the world.

“This is a major investment in any country,” said BP chief operating officer, fuels value chains, Tufan Erginbilgic.  The center in South Africa emphasizes BP’s commitment to investing in clean fuels and technology.  BP said the facility would allow the company to enhance its ability to offer differentiated fuels in South Africa’s market.

South Africa is expected to be an area of key growth in the next several years.  The opening of the new facility reflects BP’s long-term investment strategy in that part of the world.  In the past year, BP has invested over $70 million in its forecourt infrastructure.  Optimization of refining fuels and expansion of fuel delivery capabilities are two major priorities for the oil and gas company.

The South African center will operate similarly to current U.S. and German facilities.  The center and its staff aim to provide marketing support and technical service to the local fuel market in addition to its focus on quality assurance.  It will combine a state of the art fuels quality test lab with a staff training and customer engagement facility.

Sipho Maseko, BP Southern Africa CEO, pointed to the opportunities created by establishing the new facility in Johannesburg.  The center will bring qualified fuel scientists and technologists to the field of clean fuel technology and “provide unique opportunities for industry to work closer with academic institutions and motoring bodies, such as the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.”

According to Maseko, “It is much more than a center with very smart people.  Schools and Universities will have access to it.  It means closer collaboration with motor manufacturing bodies.”  Speaking at the facility launch, Maseko noted that the center would provide South African consumers with access to the latest technology and fuels that “remain unparalleled in quality and performance.”

South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, attended the launch and thanked BP for their investment in South Africa.  Peters said, “Words are often said, but not meant, but through this investment by BP, these are indeed words said and meant.”  Peters said that the Department of Energy would set a guide for cleaner fuels by publishing a “position paper.”

The Minister continued by emphasizing the government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and construction of a refinery.  ”I hope that BP will use this as a springboard for other investments and technologies in this part of the world,” Peters said.  The proposed refinery is scheduled to start construction in 2012 and to go on stream by 2015.