UPDATE 2-South Africa open to Iranian investment if new refinery goes ahead
* S.Africa to own majority stake in plant with partner
* Eyes W. Africa, Iran for potential partners
* No decision yet on refinery's capacity, cost (Recasts with new comments by energy official details)
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, May 19 (Reuters) - South Africa, a net importer of refined oil products, is looking to West Africa and the Middle East, including Iran, for potential partners on a new refinery project, energy ministry officials said on Friday. Energy minister Mmamoloko Kubayi told parliament that the cabinet expects to decide by December whether to build the refinery that has been under consideration for almost a decade.
National oil company PetroSA has promoted the idea of building a refinery with a capacity of up to 400,000 barrels per day on the east coast, but the government was put off by the $10 billion price-tag in 2010 and a lack of equity partners.
Kubayi said the refinery was now urgent because South Africa's oil imports were increasing.
She said that a public-private partnership to develop the refinery, which would be majority owned by the government, was the preferred approach.
"By the time any new refinery is completed, the country will be importing in excess of a third of its fuel requirements," she said. Continued...