Petrol price

Last week, the petrol price was on course to rise by about R3-per-litre in June. That’s now edged up towards R3.50p/l – Photo: Pixabay

South Africa may face ‘diesel shortage’, ‘fuel rationing’ during Level 3

The economy might be ready to open up, but a forecast ‘diesel shortage’ could wreak havoc for some industries. Here’s the latest on our fuel situation.

Petrol price

Last week, the petrol price was on course to rise by about R3-per-litre in June. That’s now edged up towards R3.50p/l – Photo: Pixabay

As South Africa prepares to open up its economy for Level 3 of lockdown next week, we may already have a logistical problem in terms of our fuel. Industry experts have warned that South Africa faces a ‘diesel shortage’ which threatens to affect the local oil industry ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Is there a diesel shortage in South Africa?

According to SAPIA, they have been caught off-guard by the rapid transition from Level 5 to Level 3 of lockdown. By next Monday, There will have been a time period of just 31 days between exiting the hardest form of lockdown, and entering a much more eased version of these rules:

“The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) can confirm that there is currently a shortage of diesel in the country. Since the easing of lockdown restrictions and the transition from Alert Level 5 to Alert Level 4, the opening of the economy has resulted in a more rapid recovery than expected.”

“There has been a dramatic increase in demand for diesel. The inland and KZN markets are mostly affected and stock rationing is been implemented to manage demand and to preserve stock. Unplanned shutdowns were a contributing factor that led to this and the shortage. It is likely to continue until the end of May.”

SAPIA statement

Will there be fuel rationing at Level 3?

Kevin Mileham is the shadow minister for energy. He’s challenged his opposite number in government, Gwede Mantashe, to reveal more about South Africa’s fuel and diesel supplies. According to the DA representative, our oil refineries aren’t anywhere near reaching full-speed yet:

“Minimal refining capacity is online, and there’s very limited imported stock arriving on our shores. At the end of last week, three of SA’s six refineries had yet to restart operations, two were in limited production, and the PetroSA facility had halted production temporarily due to product contamination and pipeline failures.”

“This means that diesel is likely to be rationed for the foreseeable future. It is time for Gwede Mantashe to come clean about the state of South Africa’s fuel supply for the next two weeks, and he must urgently address the fact that our strategic fuel reserves are, to all intents and purposes, worthless in a time of crisis.”

Kevin Mileham

South Africa’s diesel reserves under scrutiny

Gwede Mantashe briefly addressed the crisis on Tuesday, and he’s confident that the strategic fuel reserves – dismissed so emphatically by Mileham – will be able to guide South Africa through this mini-crisis.