New 21-million litre depot raises fuel reserve capacity

A crisis in transportation and imports sections of petroleum products will no longer worry the public much after a new petroleum storage facility is completed in the next four months.
SP petroleum depot under construction in Rusororo Sector, Gasabo District. (Edwin Musoni)
SP petroleum depot under construction in Rusororo Sector, Gasabo District. (Edwin Musoni)

A crisis in transportation and imports sections of petroleum products will no longer worry the public much after a new petroleum storage facility is completed in the next four months.

The 21-million litres facility in in Gasabo District, Kigali, is being constructed by Societe Petroliere Ltd (SP), a local company dealing in transportation and distribution of petroleum products

The depot, once complete, will boost the overall national reserve that currently holds 30 million litres.

The largest storage facility at the moment is Gatsata Depots (15 million litres) and then Kabuye (5 million litres).

The two are supplemented by smaller facilities at Kigali International Airport and in Rwabuye in the Southern Province.

“About 70 per cent of petroleum products in these depots is reserved as government’s strategic stock, which leaves about 5.6 million litres for open market,” Jean Paul Rubulika, the operations manager of SP, told The New Times.

“On average, Rwanda consumes about 25-30 million litres of petroleum a month, meaning that in case of a crisis, what is in the reserves would only last a week.”

In a bid to boost the country’s capacity to have more fuel stock, government partnered with private oil dealers to have reserves of up to 150 million litres.

Taking the lead

SP took the lead in constructing a depot at Rusororo Sector, Gasabo District, where the inland terminal for the proposed Eldoret-Kampala-Kigali pipeline for refined petroleum products will be located.

The pipeline, which is set for completion by 2017, is one of the initiatives planned under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects and it will enter Rwanda through Kagitumba border in Nyagatare District up to Rusororo.

“We wanted to construct a 5-million litre facility but government told us that they wanted a bigger investment and that’s how we partnered with other investors to raise it to a 21-million litre capacity,” Rubilika said.

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Sitting on eight hectares, the $16 million depot was designed by Forges Tardier, a Mauritian company, and the construction of the plant is being undertaken by a Tanzanian company, GIS Engineering and Environmental Services.

The tanks at the facility will have a capacity of offloading and loading 1.5 million litres per day.

“The facility will stock 9.6 million litres of diesel, 9.6 million litres of PMS, and 1.6 million litres of Jet A1 (commercial aviation fuel). It has six tanks, one of which is reserved for water that could be used in case of a fire outbreak,” said Julius Kibet Martim, the SP project manager.

He said with such flammable products, the water tank will be semi-automated.

Martim added that the mode of construction is not the turn-key and that all the machinery used are Rwandan while experts just come in to construct the plant, which makes it cheaper.

For environmental protection, SP said they plan on building an environment containment to avoid any leakage contamination on the ground.

The facility will run on an automated system that will regulate the inflow and out flow of petroleum products.

The technical director at the site, Anthony Mwenda, said the depot should receive their first consignment in April next year.

The construction of the depots started in January this year and took shape in June when constructors started mounting tanks.

Another firm joins in

Meanwhile, The New Times has learnt that in a bid to have the envisaged 150-million-litre storage capacity by 2017, another petroleum dealer, Oil Com, is also putting up another depot.

Officials say bigger fuel reserves were essential to ensure the country has enough fuel to supply the market and stabilise pump prices.

With massive oil reserves, the country could be in position to mitigate the challenge of decline in commercial stocks that leads to price hikes.

It is also a business opportunity since Rwanda is a transit route to some of its neighbouring countries.

Currently, total fuel storage capacity is split between the government and the five oil dealers with depots at Gatsata in Kigali, Kabuye,

Other companies that have already ventured into storage construction include Abbarci Petroleum Marketing Company (ABBARCI), Oryx Petroleum, Protek and Mount Meru Petroleum Rwanda.

Figures from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency indicate that the use of petroleum products is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 10.1 per cent.

Experts in oil business say that the major challenge dealers face is the unpredictable international oil market.
Currently, the oil market is regulated by government to preserve the macro-economic equilibrium.

edwin.musoni@newtimes.co.rw

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