The Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal (KOT) being built at the Port of Mombasa is already attracting interest from international shipping lines and oil firms.
According to Haji Masemo, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) head of communications, two foreign oil firms, Total Uganda and Ghana Petroleum Authority, will be inspecting the facility soon with an intention to use it.
At the same time, Mr Masemo revealed that Sturrock Shipping Company and Inchape Shipping will also be offloading oil at the terminal.
The new facility will replace the Old Kipevu Oil Terminal which has a single jetty that handles only one vessel at a time.
The old terminal was built in 1963 to serve the then East African Oil Refinery which later changed to Kenya Petroleum Oil Refinery.
"The Total Uganda visit is important since Uganda has discovered huge oil deposits and is preparing to start exports,” Masemo said.
“KOT being the biggest facility in the region continues to attract interest from within and outside Kenya.’’
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta with Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi inspected ongoing works at the facility.
KPA Acting Managing Director John Mwangemi has indicated that construction works are 98 per cent complete.
The new oil handling terminal is an off-shore facility located opposite the current 50-year-old Kipevu Oil Terminal at the Port of Mombasa.
The project consists of one offshore island terminal with four berths whose total length is 770m and one work boat wharf at Westmont area for landing facilities.
It also has five sub-sea pipelines which were buried 26 metres under the seabed to allow future dredging of the channel without interfering with the pipes.
There are risers meant to separate another oil facility connecting the terminal to the Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited and Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) storage tanks.
Once complete, the new oil terminal will have four berths capable of handling six different hydrocarbon import and export products.
It is also fitted with a Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) handling facility, crude oil and heavy fuel oil handling equipment.
It also has provisions for handling three types of white oil products (DPK- aviation fuel, AGO-diesel and PMS–petrol).
The terminal is regarded as a game changer. It will for a start be able to accommodate three ships with a capacity of 200,000 tonnes each.
A fourth berth has already been constructed, provisionally, which will be fitted with facilities in future in case a fourth ship calls.
According to KPA, the new KOT will reduce vessel turn-around time from four days to two days. It will also enhance security for oil products being exported to regional countries.
"It will enhanced vessel operational flexibility through the increased vessel handling capacity leading to further enhanced LPG importation facilities which will lead to possible reduction of LPG costs and more LPG uptake in the country,” said KPA.
Oil importers will also benefit from economies of scale as larger vessels call at the Port of Mombasa.