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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (August 17, 2000 - Vanuatu Weekly/PINA Nius Online)---The Arafura Company, which recently signed a 300 million Vatu (US$ 2,172,024) Joint Venture Fishing Project agreement with SHEFA province to fish in their waters, also plans to set up a mini oil refinery on Éfaté.

In a press statement, The SHEFA provincial council stated that the company would operate as WDPT Investment Ltd.

The company already has built three similar mini oil refineries, which are now operating in Australia, it said.

The company is believed to be talking of investing up to US$ 20 million into the oil refinery to produce petroleum, kerosene, diesel, bitumen (coal tar) and industrial solvent.

It said it will be the first mini refinery of its kind in the South Pacific.

The company will obtain crude oil from Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries. After processing the crude oil into other useable products, like benzene and other industrial solvents, it will sell them to countries in the region.

In Vanuatu, the company hopes to sell its products for 30 percent less than current prices.

The mini oil refinery will have the capacity to produce 30 million liters (7,800,000 gallons) of fuel in a year with potential to increase to 120 million liters (3,120,000 galls), the company said. Vanuatu currently uses 70 million liters (18,200,000) a year.

The Foreign Investment Board (VFIB) has already approved the project.

However, the company seems to be finding it difficult to find a suitable place in which to operate. Forari, Havanah Harbour, Teuma Bay and Tara Plantation are among the possible areas the company and SHEFA province are looking at.

For additional reports from the Vanuatu Weekly/Hebdomadaire, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/ Vanuatu Weekly/Hebdomadaire.

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