South Africa is looking to source more crude from Africa’s top oil-producing nation Nigeria, South Africa’s deputy president said on Wednesday. According to Reuters, South Africa, who imports a quarter of its oil from Iran, is moving to cut crude imports from the Middle Eastern country.
The West has long pressured Africa’s biggest economy to cut oil ties with Iran, who has ignored all warning to cease its nuclear program. South Africa has long been reluctant to take a side in the standoff, but on Wednesday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, in Pretoria gave its clearest signal yet when he announced that the nation was shopping around for alternative suppliers and was looking in the Nigerian market.
“We would guarantee going forward, to our Nigerian brothers, demand for their liquid fuels because we don’t want to source our fuel in areas that are likely to be unstable,” he told reporters during a briefing with Nigerian Vice-President Namadi Sambo in Cape Town.
“We are quite confident that Nigeria will become one of South Africa’s trusted suppliers of liquid fuel.”
Customs data showed South Africa took 615 834 tons of Nigerian crude in March, more than four times the same month last year and more than the 505 908 tons it bought from Iran. However, making the switch could prove difficult for South Africa as analyst say refineries already set up to treat Iranian-type of crude will be hard-pressed to make the switch to other products.
Cutting out Iran’s oil will mean that South Africa could face a shortage in its fuel supply.
According to the Reuters report, South Africa energy ministry said last week that it is meeting with the United States and the European union to find a middle ground that would not mean cutting out Iran’s crude.
Meanwhile, Nigeria wants more than just an oil deal from South Africa. In an online statement released on Wednesday, spokesperson for Bayelsa state Governor Seriake Dickson, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the governor of the oil-rich state is hoping to lure South African investors into other sectors of its economy, not just its oil sector.
Governor Dickson, who recently led a group of delegates on a visit to the South African President, Jacob Zuma, is said to have fashioned out ways to deepen bilateral relations and explore investment opportunities with South Africa.
The governor was said to have expressed his willingness to work together with South Africa on matters of education, healthcare and trade, a proposal that President Zuma welcomed. According to the statement from the Bayelsa State government, President Zuma commended Dickson’s investment initiatives, promising to provide his assistance.