10 November 2006.


The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, having conducted a study tour to ENGEN refinery in Durban on the 10 November 2006, reports as follows:


Members Present:

The delegation, under the leadership of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Hon. E N N Ngcobo (ANC), included Hon. A R Ainslie (ANC), Hon. F Mahomed (ANC), Prof I J Mohamed (ANC), Hon. S N Nxumalo (ANC), Hon. J P I Blanche (DA)



Hon. S Dithebe, Hon. B T Ngcobo (ANC), Hon. B J Mnyandu (ANC), Hon. M J Bhengu (IFP), Hon. A M Dreyer (DA), Hon. P J Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO), Hon. V C Gore (ID) and Hon. N T Godi (PAC)


Supporting Staff:

Ms Z Jansen (Committee Secretary)

Mrs C Adams (Committee Assistant)



The Portfolio Committee conducted a study tour of the ENGEN Refinery in Durban, a Division of ENGEN Petroleum South Africa. As the Portfolio Committee plays an influential role in government decision-making process on energy matters, a study tour to the refinery was beneficial to it.


Purpose for the study tour:

The aim of the study tour was to afford the Portfolio Committee an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the manufacturing of crude oils. It was also an opportunity for ENGEN and the Portfolio Committee to interact on issues of mutual interest such as: cleaner fuels program, bio fuels and the interrelationship with cleaner fuels; availability of skills pool and its capacity to meet the quality and demands of anticipated Capex Programs; issues relating to BEE and EE, and the industry charter; environmental issues around ensuring cleaner air in South Durban; challenges that ENGEN face and social responsibility issues.


Presentation by Mr W Hartmann, General Manager of ENGEN Refinery, Durban:


·                     It is unacceptable that the refinery is situated next to a residential area, however it is working together with the community to overcome the challenges.

·                     It had made tremendous strides in environmental issues. Issue is a “hot potato” but it had worked on it jointly with the communities concerned and the situation has improved.

·                     It said that approximately 70% of its construction work is outsourced to BEE owned companies. The staff of these companies are trained by ENGEN and used consistently as such staff would become familiar with its refinery and this would improve its safety.

·                     It is actively involved in training, however there is still a shortage of skills and because of this projects run late.

·                     It proposed a three point plan:

1.       Effective use of training – For example, candidates don’t earn enough money and therefore leave the learnerships.

2.       Better management of scarce skills resources – Should have a data base that informs companies of what skills are available in the country.

3.       Scheduling of projects to reduce skills demand – Align projects with the shortage of skills and create incentives for going local.

·                     It will forward report discussed to the Chairperson and suggested that people who compiled the report on scarce skills present to the PC.

·                     It emphasized that the shortage of skills is an international phenomenon and many of South Africans are approached to work overseas.

·                     It had further said that it is difficult to unlock funds from Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and requested that the PC assist it with this.


The following formed part of the discussion:


·                     PC: What environmental issues were discussed with the communities? Expressed concern about the slow rate that women were absorbed in to high profile management positions. Does it facilitate storage tanks for new BEE entrants?

ENGEN: The environmental issues concern the impact that its sulphur dioxide emissions have on the surrounding communities. It has a permit to release 90 ton of sulphur dioxide. It had been issued a five year permit with a list of requirements. It will take some time to meet the requirements. In terms of the permit, it is allowed 90 ton of emissions, however it had accumulated to more over time as it had incorrectly assessed the output. It has an environmental team that works on it and in the best interest of the community. It had compiled a health study on the impact of sulphur dioxide and it was ascertained that it only affects people suffering from asthmatics. Coincidently there are many people suffering from asthmatics in the surrounding communities. It is striving to improve the air in Durban and it is unfortunate that the media tends to exacerbate issues. The media have not given them an opportunity to tell their side of the story. It has a progressive equity plan and all women who are appointed are so because they deserve it as it does not believe in “token” appointments. It will not support its competitors but there is legislation underway to support new entrants with storage facilities.  


·                     PC: What is the level of Benzine that is being emitted?

ENGEN: Benzine levels are lower than what is required from the guidelines within the refinery. However, outside it is more and was not able to say why that is the case. Presently use MNT in gasoline in order to curb high octane level. 


·                     PC: South Africa has lost skills in science, technology and engineering due to people leaving the country. Enquired what is being done to have those people with the necessary skills return to South Africa? 

ENGEN: People are returning to South Africa however there is still the problem of skilled people leaving the country. This is attributed to the fact that there is a skills shortage internationally.


·                     PC: On oversight visit to Rhodes University discovered that there were many students, approximately 60% with science and technology degrees however, they struggled to find employment and many of them were preparing to leave the country.

ENGEN: Responded that the Joint Initiative Priority on Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) experienced the same problem. It had received a number of Curriculum Vitaes from JIPSA, however was only able to employ two graduates in its operations department. Other graduates did not have science, technology or engineering degrees. It was proposed that such Curriculum Vitaes be forwarded to the office of the General Manager, Mr W Hartmann.


·                     PC: It had admitted that sanctions were taken against it. Enquired what the nature of the sanctions was?

ENGEN: Its intention was to meet all requirements. However it had under estimated the weather conditions in Durban. The air in Durban remains stable in that it does not move on. At the time when it agreed to the 35 tons it did not have the information about the weather conditions. It had agreed to a package without all the necessary information. It was fined R2000,00 per ton. It is working on improving the situation in a collaborative effort with the surrounding communities. It had demonstrated to the City of Durban that it is doing its utmost best to improve the scenario. It emphasized that Sulphur Dioxide is not as a big problem in the surrounding communities as the media has made it out to be and ENGEN is shifting to a more environmental approach wherein science can be used to assist in these issues.




·                     Proposed that PC have a briefing on this matter wherein the community is included. PC has to assist companies like ENGEN to build relationships with communities as it has a bad history with communities. PC should also assist ENGEN in building relationships with National and Provincial Government.

·                     Secondly, proposed that ENGEN send students overseas to obtain skills in order that they return and train people in South Africa. 

·                     PC provides assistance to ENGEN in receiving funds from SETA in order to train more graduates.





The Committee wishes to thank all the people that it met and interacted with during the study tour. The hospitality accorded to the Delegation made the task of the Committee much easier and affordable.



Report to be considered





Hon. E N N Ngcobo, MP