Parts of South Africa still facing fuel shortages

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) says that diesel and petrol stock availability is improving after the country reduced refining capacity during its lockdown.

The group said in a statement on Friday (12 June), that its members are building stock since the lowering of the lockdown alert levels and the recent price changes.

“Product imports have arrived at the port of Durban and pipeline deliveries have resumed.

“These products will reach the inland market within 7 to 14 days which is the lead time from Durban to Gauteng by pipeline.

“During this time, supply is expected to stabilise across the country as more refineries are online and producing fuel. The pipeline is also operational following stoppages due to theft incidents.”

At the end of May, Bloomberg reported that about 30% of the country’s refining capacity idled because of a drop in demand, spurred by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Sasol and Total SA shut the Natref refinery in April after the government restricted economic activity to curb the spread of coronavirus. The measures also extended a planned shutdown by the Glencore-owned Astron Energy Cape Town refinery.

The plants comprise almost a third of the nation’s nameplate fuel-making capacity of over 700,000 barrels a day.

Sapia said that some of the lockdown measures being eased created a “dramatic increase” in demand for diesel, resulting in rationing of the fuel.

More than half of the country’s capacity had been shut due to the lockdown as well as unplanned outages.

Clarity needed 

In a separate statement on Sunday, the Democratic Alliance called for clarity around the diesel shortage and lack of response from the minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe.

“Gauteng is amongst the worst hit, with numerous wholesalers and retailers reportedly “dry”, and others experiencing difficulty in obtaining resupply,” the DA said.

“Although production has ramped up at the refineries and product imports having arrived in our ports, the fact remains that it will still take at least a week for those products to reach inland markets.

“This situation has been exacerbated by the theft of parts of the multi-product pipeline from Durban to Gauteng.”

Read: How petrol prices have changed in South Africa over the past year

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Parts of South Africa still facing fuel shortages