Zim can be SADC fuel hub
Harare- Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge says the country is making great strides to become Southern Development Community’s (SADC) petroleum distribution hub.
Undenge said Government and private players have made significant investments to increase efficiency and usage of the pipeline stretching from Beira in Mozambique to Msasa in the capital, Harare.
Petroleum products are shipped to Beira and transported into Zimbabwe through the duct which is cheaper than road and rail.
In 2013, a Drag Reducing Agent (DRA), which is injected into the pipeline to reduce friction upon pumping, was introduced, hence surging throughput.
Because of the DRA, the pipeline can now pump a maximum of six million litres a day (180 million litres per month) up from four million litres a day (120 million litres a month).
He said the State owned National Oil and Infrastructure Company (NOIC) commanded over 500 million litres of storage capacity more than adequate for current local and regional requirements.
“Our vision is to make Zimbabwe a hub of fuel trade and transport in the region, given its central location and huge storage capacity which is owned and operated by NOIC,” Undenge said.
“Some countries in the region which include Zambia, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo); Botswana and Malawi pick some of their fuel from Zimbabwe but the volumes are still low, reaching 10 million litres per month at best. This suggests that we should do more to capture a material share of the regional market.”
Undenge said the next phase of upgrading the pipeline will comprise the installation of additional booster pumps resulting in the conduit pumping a maximum of 7, 5 million litres per day or 225 million litres per month.
“The final phase which will entail replacing existing pumps with bigger ones would result in throughput of 16, 6 million litres per day or 500 million litres per month,” he said.
“The timing of the pipeline upgrades will be subject to demand for increased pumping.”
In 2011 Government introduced a four-cent per litre penalty for fuel transported into Zimbabwe, for the Zimbabwean market, by road to compel fuel dealers to use the duct or rail when importing the product.
The move was sparked by the desire to maximise the use of the pipeline and rail for which Government has fixed obligations and also because of other considerations like safety, economy and preservation of the country’s road and infrastructure threatened by the movement of trucks daily.
Since then, over 95 percent of the fuel imported into the country comes into the country by the conduit. In 2011, the channel pumped a total of one billion litres of fuel into the country. In 2014, the volume pumped had increased to 1, 39 billion litres.