IN the five months that have passed since the Mayor of Umtali hammered a wooden stake into the ground on Feruka Valley farm and earth-moving machinery began clearing the site of the process area, the oil refinery has begun to take definite shape.
Progress is according to schedule, a spokesman of Central African Petroleum Refineries (Pvt) Ltd, said yesterday.
The first two tanks to go up are now complete. These are 760 000-gallon raw water tanks, 47-feet-high with a diameter of 60 feet. They are ready to receive their first water and be used for testing other tanks and equipment.
Welders are working on three floating reef crude oil tanks, 96ft in diameter and 60ft high.
These giant tanks will receive the crude oil straight from the Beira pipeline. Construction also started this week on the intermediate storage tanks.
The concrete foundations in the process area, begun two months ago, are progressing according to plan, and the first process equipment has arrived. These are the process heaters— the furnaces that will heat the oil. All eight have been made in Rhodesia.
The high security fence which encloses the refinery area has been completed. The steel structures for the workshop and warehouse buildings have been erected, and the concrete and brickwork of the canteen building is complete.
The finishing and fitting, however are expected to take about another two months.
The main office block is under its roof, and in the process area the control room and laboratory are well under way.
Roads on the site are formed but not yet surfaced, and work is being pushed ahead with the drainage system in preparation for the rainy season.
The spur linking the refinery with the main Salisbury-Umtali railway line is already inside the refinery, and work is now going ahead on the marshalling yard.
The new road linking the refinery with the main road from Umtali to the south is complete, except for its junction (near the Umtali Teachers’ Training School) and tarring.
The 10-million-pound refinery, being built by Procon (Great Britain), Ltd., is due to start up in about a year’s time.
The Feruka Oil Refinery is connected by the Feruka Pipeline to the Mozambican port city of Beira where the bulk of Zimbabwe’s fuel imports are shipped through.
Apart from processing crude oil for Zimbabwe, experts said the refinery had the capacity to supply regional countries, such as Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.
Strategies should be in place to diversify the use of the oil refinery and pipeline if the push for non-usage of fossil fuels hots up.
Zimbabweans should continue to worry about fuel-related accidents like what happened in Sunningdale a few years ago. Last Friday also, Sierra Leone lost more than 100 citizens, and dozens more were seriously burnt when a loaded fuel tanker exploded after colliding with a truck.