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S.Africa’s cabinet gives go ahead for single state-owned petroleum entity

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa’s cabinet on Thursday approved the merger of three state-owned oil and gas firms to form a single national oil company, as it tries to cut debt by reducing the number and increase the competitiveness of state-owned firms.

South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are a major drain on public finances with almost all of them either heavily loss-making, bankrupt or stuck in a debt spiral.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has in the past stressed the need to fix the country’s SOEs, including power utility Eskom and South African Airways.

PetroSA, which runs the Mossel Bay gas-to-liquid refinery and explores for petroleum reserves, gas development company iGas and the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) which manages fuel reserves, will be merged to form the National Oil Company, the cabinet note said.

PetroSA, which had once been a money-spinner but is struggling with dwindling domestic gas feedstock at its Mossel Bay refinery is counting on a new Total oil and gas discovery offshore.

PetroSA reported a net loss of 2.08 billion rand ($123.62 million) and a debt of 1.917 billion rand for the financial year 2018/19.

A restructuring company will be appointed to investigate the most viable model of the new National Petroleum Company, the government said in a statement.

($1 = 16.8254 rand)

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; editing by Promit Mukherjee and Elaine Hardcastle)

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