Eswatini Daily News

By Khulile Thwala

The Acting Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulani Mabuza has attributed the current fuel shortage in the Kingdom to logistical issues affecting local oil companies.

Mabuza said most trucks ferrying fuel from oil refineries in South Africa were met by long queues at the depots which further delayed the collection and delivery timeframe, thus resulting in a shortage of fuel in the country.

The minister mentioned that it was not all the retailers which were encountering shortages within the country as some had enough fuel delivered to their retailers, however, due to there being no fuel in some filling stations, motorists tend to flock to those that have, thus affecting the supply and demand chain.

Galp Eswatini Managing Director Bruno Marques has previously indicated that the restructuring of refineries in SA was a major cause of the low fuel supply, stating that a cleaner fuel policy has resulted in some refineries being forced to shut down permanently, while some have had to shut down temporarily to upgrade their facilities and meet the required standards.

In early 2022, SA oil refinery SAPREF halted operations, for “an indefinite period”; although shareholders BP and Shell did not rule out a possible restart should the refinery be sold. It was the second refinery in Durban to shut down after Engen decided in April 2021 to convert its refinery there into a terminal as it was “not financially viable”. The refinery has been shut since the fire and explosion at the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, Astron Energy Cape Town refinery, which has been halted since an incident in July 2020 involving an explosion and fire, was expected to restart in the second half of 2022 but has until now not yet resumed operations.

Recently detailing the state of the refining industry in South Africa and why the country was becoming more dependent on imports, South Africa’s Central Energy Fund said there were three issues:
– a rule on import parity where the product would be imported if less costly than local production,
– the lack of storage capacity in that country and
– the lack of refinery capacity.

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