Jul 25, 2013

Day 6 - Northrise/Oil

Another awesome day here in Africa. 

I woke up with the sun again this morning, which is my personal preferred method of waking. 

We started today with a tour of the Oil Transportation company of Zambia. This is the only company (it is government owned) that brings crude oil into the country. The tour was awesome. They showed us where the oil trucks fill up, the pipeline that comes in from Tanzania, and they took us up to the top of a 9 million ton oil container to see a floating roof (on that moves with the oil to eliminate gases, rather than being stationary at the top of the drum).

After the tour we rushed back to Northrise to grab a 20 minute lunch before heading back to the neighboring oil refinery. The refinery and the transportation group are both government owned, and work very closely together. The transportation group brings in the oil from Tanzania which is then transferred to the refinery, once the crude oil has been processed and turned into end products by the refinery, it it purchased back by the transportation group and sold to shipping companies for distribution. 

The second tour at the refinery did not go as well as the first. Due to the nature of the refinery, they did not let us go on an up-close-and-personal tour. So, the tour consisted of a 1 1/2 hour lecture on the companies history and the refining process (both interesting, but made difficult by the time - by 3:00 everyone has hit the afternoon lag - and the room/instructor - the room was rather large and noisy, and the instructor (who was extremely knowledgeable) was not able to speak to the entire class, and I could not always understand all that he was saying). It was very hard for us to stay awake during his lecture (many of my fellow students nodded in and out, but I think I was able to stay awake). After the lecture we had a brief tour (as in we stood at a distance, and specific things were pointed out to us). 

After the tour we came back and had dinner at the apartment at the university, and then the 3 other students and I hung out for a while at the hotel. 

Though the whole day was great, I think the most interesting part was my discussion with one of the Northrise students on the way to the first tour. Outside of the transportation plant, there is a large cluster of homes that are "illegal" (I could not tell if it was a strictly illegal community, or if they were jut unwanted in the area). The people in those homes have made a living on selling gas from the plant. They get the gas by going to empty trucks waiting in line to re-fill, and seeing if there is any remaining gas in the tank. Or, if a truck that has just been filled is moving slow enough, they will run behind it and take the new gas. Apparently, there was one instance where someone tried to steal gas from a recently loaded truck, but the truck had been filled with tar. When they realized it was tar, they just walked away and did not put the plug back into the tank, so tar spilled out on the road for 20 km! 

There are a lot of things about Africa that match my assumptions about the country (dirt roads, villages, people carrying things around on their heads, etc.), but in other ways, the country (or at least Zambia) is more advanced than I expected (technology, infrastructure, etc.). 

This has been an amazing trip thus far, and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds! 

Thanks for reading! 


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