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BP Southern Africa (BPSA) has announced an upgrade to its SAPREF refinery to produce lower sulphur diesel. This is part of a $1-billion investment into South Africa over the next five years.

BP to invest 1 billion locallyThe 180 00 barrels per day SAPREF refinery is South Africa's largest, and is a 50:50 venture between Royal Dutch Shell and BPSA. Located in Durban, the refinery will be shut for the upgrade from May to June 2019.

According to BPSA CEO Priscillah Mabelane, the upgrade will make sure the refinery can meet the new specifications in terms of low sulphur and Marpol regulations. The refinery upgrade has been driven by new rules demanding a lower fuel sulphur content and changing customer preferences for cleaner diesel, such as D50 and D10, she said in a recent interview.

In addition to the upgrade, BPSA will be investing heavily into its retail activities. Around 40% of its total $1-billion investment will go towards “aggressively” growing BP’s footprint in South Africa. The company is also looking at opportunities to expand its services in Mozambique, where it is the second largest oil company in the country.

Reuters reports that refinery operators have been in long-running talks with government on how to recover costs from upgrading work needed to produce cleaner fuel in South Africa. “From an industry perspective we are pushing very hard to ensure that there is policy clarity because we have been on this journey very long, almost a decade,” Mabelane said.

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