Billionaire pushes oil deal
Rashid Sardarov's Comsar wants to get the ball rolling on the construction of a 250-megawatt power plant in Namibia.
18 September 2019 | Energy
The company, owned by Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov who was last year controversially granted a 99-year lease for four farms, is in talks with the ministry of energy over its plan to build an oil refinery and power station in Namibia.
When asked to provide an update on the project, a local Comsar representative said the government had been slow to respond. According to him, he had sought several opportunities to be updated on the project.
“Nothing has happened [since the Economic Growth Summit]. Government is delaying … every time they say they will come back to me.
“I spoke to the ministers of trade and energy yesterday, maybe you must talk to them [Tom Alweendo and Tjekero Tweya],” the representative said in a brief telephonic interview.
Minister of mines Tom Alweendo confirmed to Namibian Sun a while ago that talks between the government and Comsar had begun. The talks form part of a pledge that Comsar had made at the recent Economic Growth Summit.
Shedding light on the talks, Alweendo said discussions had been held but since it is an unsolicited project, any progress would be subject to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
“We have had some discussions with the company to see how the investment can materialise. The challenge is, however, how to engage the investor within the public procurement legislation, given that this is an unsolicited project proposal,” said Alweendo.
In a presentation at the Economic Growth Summit in July, Comsar said it planned to build a refinery that would provide energy for a 250-megawatt power plant and a 30 000-cubic-metre desalination plant, which the company said would be sufficient to serve Walvis Bay and Windhoek.
The planned investment, which Comsar wanted to complete by 2024, is expected to set the company back US$1.5 billion (about N$21.7 billion). The refinery was planned for Walvis Bay, the company said at the summit.
“The capacity of the refinery will be for two million tonnes of crude oil. We will burn heavy fuel oil (HFO) to produce electricity for an intended desalination plant,” Comsar said.
“We will desalinate the water with the electricity we produce; this is the future for Namibia.”
The electricity produced, Comsar said, would also be earmarked for export to neighbouring countries.
The company said its electricity price would be lower than what NamPower is currently paying for imports. It said it would employ a workforce of up to 1 000 highly skilled people to complete the project.
“Namibia will become an exporter of energy. This is a win-win project for government and for the investor,” Comsar said.