There is a diesel shortage in South Africa and this could continue until the end of the month, the South African Fuel Industry Association (Sapia) confirmed.
The deficit is due to the economy starting to recover from the level 5 restriction to level 4 faster than expected and the demand for diesel has increased dramatically, Sapia said in a statement.
Unplanned problems at some refineries have contributed to the shortage.
Kevin Mileham, DA member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy, said earlier that he had learned that three of the six refineries in the country are currently out of service, two of which have only limited production and state-run PetroSA had to temporarily suspend its production discontinued due to pipeline problems and impurities that ended up in his system.
According to Sapia, both refineries in Durban are currently resuming production and should be fully operational by the end of May, therefore over the weekend, The supply of diesel should then normalize.
The two refineries in Durban are Enref, operated by Malaysian-controlled fuel company Engen, and Sapref, jointly operated by Shell and BP. Engen spokesmen have not yet responded to inquiries.
Some of the refineries used the level 5 restriction to do planned maintenance. On March 27, Engen scaled down production in response to the expected lower fuel demand during the shutdown. However, fuel sales fell sharply in the first part of the shutdown when most businesses were closed and people were mostly confined to their homes.
Engen then said he had built up enough supplies to meet the limited demand.
According to Mileham’s information, only very limited quantities of fuel are currently being imported, and diesel supplies are expected to be rationed.
Mileham says the government has long had to ratify the 2013 strategic fuel supply policy to prevent fuel shortages. The policy has never been formally adopted. In 2013, fuel shortages were estimated to cost the economy R1 billion a day on lost economic opportunities.
Under the proposed policy, fuel companies and wholesalers had to keep at least 14 days of fuel as strategic inventory. This is in addition to the state’s own strategic inventory.
The agricultural organization TAU SA also warned about the risk of fuel shortages as the refineries scaled their production during the shutdown. It can become problematic if farmers’ demand for diesel rises sharply in the run-up to harvest time, and suppliers are unable to deliver fuel on time, cautioned Louis Meintjes, president of TAU SA.