CAPE TOWN - South Africa's budding energy service industry is aiming to reap the benefits of new natural gas and oil finds along Africa's east coast, where geographical proximity gives it the edge over other hubs in Europe, Singapore and Dubai.
Located at the foot of Africa along a major shipping route, South Africa is well placed to take advantage of increased exploration by global energy companies in East Africa, where large gas discoveries over the past year have excited global interest.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that more than 250 trillion cubic feet of natural gas may lie off Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, and discoveries announced this year may hold enough gas to supply major European economies for at least one year.
South Africa, the continent's largest economy, views its ship and oil rig repair industry as a potential niche market that could, conservatively, triple its annual revenue to 3 billion rand by 2015 and create 3,000 jobs.
"Our real competitive advantage lies in our proximity to the action," said Warwick Blyth, chief executive at the South African Oil and Gas Alliance (SAOGA), the industry body.