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South Africa to build refinery for Iran crude

South Africa says state-owned PetroSA has agreed to help Iran build a gas-to-liquid refinery in the African country.

South Africa plans to build an oil refinery which will use Iranian crude, Deputy Oil Minister Thembisile Majola says. 

South African oil company officials will meet their Iranian counterparts in October to discuss the issue and resumption of crude imports, the Reuters news agency on Thursday quoted her as saying.

"There is a visit that has already been scheduled for them to come to South Africa in October and they will get the opportunity to speak to the oil companies," she said.

South Africa relied on Iran as the biggest supplier of oil before sanctions on Tehran in 2012 dried up exports of about 380,000 barrels per day to the black continent’s most industrialized nation and second largest crude importer.

Majola said state-owned PetroSA had agreed to help Tehran build a gas-to-liquid refinery in Mossel Bay that will use the Iranian crude.

“We are looking to build a refinery and we have already begun these kinds of discussion in terms of having a partnership," Reuters quoted her as saying.

A view of PetroSA’s GTL refinery at Mossel Bay, South Africa. The new Iranian plant will be built next to the existing GTL facility.

On Wednesday, an Iranian oil official said Iran and South Africa have signed an initial document for crude oil sales, pending the lifting of sanctions on Tehran for exports to resume.

Director for international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Mohsen Qamsari said South Africa is ahead of other countries in the race to resume oil imports from Iran.

“An initial document was signed by the two sides but given that South Africa’s crude oil import terminals belong to international companies such as Shell, exports are not possible for now because of sanctions,” he said.

Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has said South Africa had never agreed with sanctions against Iran and that its oil refiners had suffered from a ban on crude exports from the Islamic Republic.

She visited Tehran in July on the heels of South African Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson who traveled to the Islamic Republic the previous month to discuss oil purchases and participation in Iran’s energy projects. 

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