The project to build an oil refinery at Nacala-a-Velha, in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, has taken off with the transportation of equipment and machinery to the refinery site.
The first production of refined fuels from the project, budgeted at about US$ 5 billion, is expected in 2010.
Eurico Simao, a consultant for the company building the project, said the initial phase also involved building an arts and crafts school, intended to train local people, saying the success of any project depends on the human factor.
“It is not enough just to take machines there,” he said, adding “you must have people who work with the machines and study how to use them and that’s why it’s fundamental to set up a crafts school.”
The school will be supported by the Mozambican and Brazilian governments. “The Brazilians proposed a series of measures and a plan they have already used in various places around the world,” said Simao.
The advantages of this plan is that it comes in modules already written in Mozambique’s official language, Portuguese, and for teachers who will give classes at the school also in Portuguese.
This, Simao believed, will facilitate the transfer of skills to the Nacala students and the capacity to perform a variety of duties “which are absolutely essential. Without this, it’s not worth putting the machines there.”
Simao thought it possible to install the industry within three years, so that in 2010, the first drops of petrol and diesel will begin to flow from the refinery .
“It’s been shown that it’s possible to set up a refinery in Nacala,” he said, pointing out “my clients started from the principle that it was viable.
“Studies were undertaken which led to the drafting of plans and the conclusion was reached that we can put them into practice. That’s where we are now.”
Simao said the refinery is justified because of the rail links from Nacala to Malawi and eventually into Zambia and Angola, making it possible to supply a vast market with refined fuels.
A series of other industries complementary to the refinery could be developed, he added – including plants producing chemicals, plastics and fertilizer.
The refinery could also produce refined fuels for the Asian market.