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POWER SUPPLY: Legal Advisors For Coega


Recent Western Cape Business News

In a further step towards realisation of the 400 000 barrels a day, US$9-11 billion crude oil refinery at Coega, Cape Town-based PetroSA announced the appointment of a consortium of legal firms to advise it on the project.

The consortium consists of the three South African firms; Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, Mkhabela Huntley Adekeye Inc and Qunta Inc; and two international partners, UK-based law firm Clifford Chance, and Nixon Peabody of the US.

Together they have formed the ENS-led Consortium that would for the next few years perform a vast array of legal advisory tasks for Cape Town-based PetroSA on the development of Project Mthombo, as the Coega crude refinery has come to be known.

Owen Tobias, Head of the PetroSA Legal Services Department, in announcing the appointment of the successful consortium indicated that:

The appointment of the consortium is recognition of our confidence in a South African-led consortium with significant BBBEE participation to provide world class legal advisory services. At PetroSA we are quite pleased about the prospect of working with such an accomplished, eclectic team of legal counsel. They are a formidable group with a proven track-record in complex projects both locally and internationally,” he said

Tobias said PetroSA accepted the ENS-led Consortium’s bid because of their unique proposal, which is a combination of an established local firm and two emerging law firms; including the two foreign counsel, contributing world class legal advisory services combined with vast multi-jurisdictional operating experience on projects of this nature.

Through this appointment we have ensured that the goals of transformation and BBBEE in the legal fraternity are appropriately advanced,” he added.

The ENS-led Consortium will provide input on several aspects of Project Mthombo including the overall project structure, joint venture arrangements, project finance, co-lending requirements, regulatory approvals and permits, technological licenses and environmental obligations.

Mzi Mgudlwa, a spokesperson for the ENS-led Consortium said: “We are extremely proud to have won the bid for a project of such magnitude. What makes this achievement unique is the fact that local counsel have been appointed to lead the consortium – this is ground breaking stuff for South Africa. Unlike in the past where African firms are most often dominated by their international counterparts in deals of this size and nature, this project will be driven by us, a South African firm, in a lead capacity.”

Over the next three years we will work closely with PetroSA, to deliver world-class legal and tax solutions for this project by using our breadth and depth of expertise, not only in terms of the scale of our firm which encompasses many specialist teams and business areas including tax, corporate finance and corporate commercial etc; but also with respect to our knowledge and experience within the African context,” he added.

Project Mthombo is currently in the full feasibility phase, with the final investment decision on the project expected next year. Over the last year the project has reached several significant milestones that include the appointment of HSBC as financial advisers. Other milestones include the appointment of United Kingdom-based KBC Process Technology as technical and commercial services advisors.

Leading global engineering, construction and services company KBR were appointed in December 2008 to carry out the feasibility studies as well as the front-end engineering design (FEED) for the mega refinery. The refinery is expected to come on stream in 2014/15.

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