A Durban crude oil refinery this weekend received its first shipment of tools for the cleaner fuels project, in line with government's proposed new petrol and diesel regulations.

A Durban crude oil refinery this weekend received its first shipment of tools for the cleaner fuels project, in line with government's proposed new petrol and diesel regulations.

According to the new regulations, petroleum manufacturers will need to produce lead-free petrol and low-sulphur diesel by 2006. The upgrade will allow the local Shell and BP subsidiaries involved in the joint venture to achieve high octane requirements with further oil refining.

Newspaper reports indicated that the shipment from Malaysia included three distillation columns worth R6 million. Sourced internationally, the local companies have been involved in the manufacture and transport of the columns, which are constructed and transported in two parts. The largest of the columns was 60 m long with a diameter of 4,5 m.

Sapref, the largest crude oil refinery in Southern Africa, is responsible for approximately 35 per cent of the country's refinery capacity, or 180 000 barrels per day. Known as the Lion Project, the upgrade forms part of the R700 million cleaner fuels project.