Bunkering sector can become an economic pillar for Mauritius, says Minister Gungah

Government wants to create new economic pillars and the petroleum and bunkering sector is one of them. We have one of the best business friendly environments in Africa and the potential to become a major player in the region.

The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah made this statement yesterday at the 12th Indian Ocean Ports and Logistics Exhibition and Conference on 'Establishing Mauritius as the Transhipment and Bunkering Hub in Africa and the Indian Ocean' held at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Balaclava.

Mauritius which is not endowed with natural resources, should make optimum use of its strategic location on the East-West route in the Indian Ocean, linking Asia and Africa and should aim for a leading role on this shipping route, the Minister pointed out. He added that the business friendly environment also provides another opportunity to position the country as a major operator in this sector.

The Minister recalled that in line with Vision 2030 to develop Mauritius as a petroleum and bunkering hub, Government is planning to increase substantially the storage capacity for petroleum products. In this regard, the completion of the Mer Rouge Oil Storage Terminal project, providing an addition of 25 000 metric tons of storage capacity for white oils is scheduled in April. A petroleum port will also be set up in Albion for which the construction of tanks of a storage capacity of some 500 000 MT will be carried out. Safeguarding the environment and assuring that the bunkering project is environment friendly are Government's priorities, he added.

Furthermore, Mr Gungah highlighted that Government has set up a new framework with the aim at facilitating business in the bunkering sector. It includes the following incentives: liberalisation of the importation of bunker fuels so that private operators can import these products on their own; bunker fuels are exempted from Excise Duty and Value Added Tax; removal of the Maurice Ile Durable Levy on importation; rebates on port dues, anchorage dues, pilotage and tug service at the Mauritius Ports Authority; pipeline dues have been waived and vessels calling for bunkering purposes are also allowed to carry out other ancillary activities such as crew changing and ship chandling.

According to the Minister, this initiative has allowed the oil majors and several international companies to develop bunkering activities in Mauritius. He pointed out that it has resulted in an increase of the importation of bunker fuels from around 286 000 tons in 2014 to more than 456 000 tons in 2017 representing a growth of some 60% and that from 2016 to 2017, there has been a growth in volume by some 39%. This increasing trend is also confirmed by the increase in deliveries by barges from 573 in 2016 to 800 in 2017, that is, a growth of 40%.

Source: Government of Mauritius