PetroSA retrenchment fears grow

THE possibility of large-scale job cuts at PetroSA due to dwindling productivity at the parastatal’s Mossel Bay facility has caused panic on the Garden Route.

Not only is PetroSA, with its about 1 800 workers, the biggest employer in the Southern Cape, but the parastatal ploughs about R2-billion into the area’s economy every year.

If PetroSA – which has centred its major activities around Mossel Bay – acts on plans to lay off 40% of its workforce, 700 workers will be jobless.

“Just in salaries, the loss will be about R35-million a month,” Mossel Bay Business Chamber chairman Johan van Rensburg said.

The chamber plans to approach Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in an attempt to put pressure on PetroSA to consider alternative options.

After reports surfaced last week that the national oil company was considering large-scale retrenchments, the company said it would be a last resort.

PetroSA chief executive Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo said they were reorganising their business to enhance operational efficiencies in the midst of challenging market conditions to ensure its survival and sustainability.

“This has been caused by an ongoing feedstock challenge at PetroSA’s Mossel Bay refinery that has seen the company operate at sub-commercial levels.”

In the 2013-14 financial year, the refinery produced 5.8 million barrels of refined products, 14% below target.

Van Rensburg said although details were still unclear, if the company opted for retrenchments it would be a devastating blow to the entire southern Cape.

“According to PetroSA’s financial reports, it invests about R2-billion a year in the region’s economy.”

If 700 jobs were lost this would amount to about R35-million a month in lost salaries.

-Yolande Stander

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