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Demystifying Debmarine’s fuel needs

Controlling five vessels that contribute 60% of Namdeb Holding’s diamond output, Debmarine Namibia owns and operates the most advanced mining vessels in existence. This week, the Economist got an idea of the work involved in re-fuelling DeBeer’s mining fleet.

Responding to the Economist, Debmarine Namibia Communications Manager, Stella Auala explained the intricacies surrounding the exercise. She said, “The Debmarine Namibia operation is a highly advanced, capital intensive production operation that requires the company to be in full production mode all year. Therefore, the vessels are re-fuelled primarily whilst at sea, approximately four times a year.”
Towards the end of 2013, Debmarine launched a feasibility study to investigate and identify opportunities, with the Port of Luderitz as the anchor point. Said Auala, “Debmarine Namibia has actively pursued its goal to migrate all services to Namibia by undertaking studies and has steadily grown its presence and service provisions from local service providers.” According to the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, Debmarine Namibia’s total procurement spent locally amounted to N$576 million in 2013.
“Debmarine Namibia supports local procurement regulations in as far as possible by using local service providers, including Namibian fuel suppliers to supply its vessels. Debmarine does spend a significant amount of money on Namibian enterprises in terms of fuel purchases,” Added Auala,without divulging the actual expenditure. She explained that Debmarine was committed to using Namibian goods and services as far as was possible but added that there were considerations on quality and commercial competitiveness.
According to Auala, the complexity of refuelling at sea has made it crucial to award suppliers who meet the most stringent requirements. “It is critical during the award of order process [that] consideration is given to suppliers and enterprises who possess the capability and technology to safely refuel the vessels at sea and those with an international favourable track record in as far as safety and environment is concerned,” said Auala.
She added, “With regards to fuel sourcing, the actual sourcing of fuel is a small component of the total process.” Debmarine’s fleet is situated approximately 15 nautical miles from Oranjemund, mining in depths of up to 140 metres. Debmarine currently owns, operates and maintains five marine vessels, all of which are on the Namibian Registry in the Port of Luderitz; namely the flagship mv Mafuta, !Gariep, Grand Banks, Debmar Atlantic and Debmar Atlantic according to Auala.

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