SA in measures to avert fuel shortages

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) said there would be shortages if the firms did not import the product.

India is reportedly shipping 100 000 tonnes of low-sulphur diesel to South Africa. News reports yesterday quoted shipping traders as saying Indian refiner Reliance was supplying most of the diesel.

The traders said loads totalling 65 000 tonnes of diesel were loaded on vessels destined for South Africa at the weekend. They said an additional 35 000 tonnes was expected to be loaded tomorrow.

News of the imports comes days after South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref) began a two-month planned shutdown at its 180 000-barrel-a-day refinery in Durban.

Sapref, a 50-50 joint venture between oil companies Shell Southern Africa and BP Southern Africa, is the country’s biggest crude oil refinery.

Sapia director Colin McClelland said yesterday: “There is no shortage of diesel. The importation of the product is a plan to ensure we do not experience shortages while the refineries are being maintained. It is part of the planning.”

Sapref’s Prudence Mbatha said yesterday the refinery would be shut down for maintenance that began last week and would last until August.

News reports yesterday said the refinery was set to import 110 000 tonnes of gas oil, three 30 000-tonne cargoes of petrol and a cargo of jet fuel this month because of the shutdown.

Shell Southern Africa shipping operations manager Colin Bell said the firm was importing diesel from several countries in the East.

Engen’s Barbara Manson said the company’s refinery was running at normal capacity.

“We are not currently importing,” she said.

The National Petroleum Refinery of SA oil refinery ‘ jointly owned by Sasol and Total ‘ was expected to undergo what refinery manager Oscar Volkwyn said was a partial shutdown later this month.

“It will not affect the product output,” he said. ‘ Business Day.

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