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Fuel shortages are not expected for now

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Nonhlanhla P Dube

After South Africa was left without a single operational oil refinery, fuel station shortages are not anticipated at this time.

After Sasol halted Natref in Sasolburg due to delays in the arrival of crude oil supplies at the Durban port, all of South Africa’s refineries are now shut down. The corporation announced a force majeure and stated that it would be unable to supply petroleum products. It refines oil to make petrol and diesel.

At this time, a Sasol representative stated that no supply constraints are foreseen at fuel stations, including its own.

Sasol does not want to reveal the source of the oil that has been delayed, but it has confirmed that a shipment arrived on Saturday. The corporation claims to be “proactive” in its search for new oil sources. Natref is expected to be fully operational by the end of July.

The disruption in crude oil deliveries to Sasol comes at an inconvenient time. While there has been a supply bottleneck in recent months, demand for oil has begun to soften as a result of high prices. Growing concerns about a global recession are also putting a damper on demand. For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine, oil prices fell below R1600 per barrel last week.

The last remaining refinery

Natref was South Africa’s last operational crude oil refinery, and its closure has forced the country to purchase 80 % of its fuel. The remainder is supplied by Sasol’s synthetic coal-to-fuel facility. According to a representative for Sasol, the operation is operating at full capacity.

To compensate for the loss of Natref, South Africa will need to increase its imports of diesel and petrol.

Sapref, the country’s largest crude oil refinery, was shut earlier this year by BP and Shell. New clean fuel requirements require the firms to invest billions of dollars in refinery upgrades. Instead, they decided to sell Sapref. The government has indicated an interest in purchasing it, but no agreement has been reached.

Natref may become unsustainable due to the regulations, which will necessitate an R45 billion expansion to the refinery, according to Sasol and its Natref partner, TotalEnergies.

In recent years, explosions have forced the closure of Astron Energy’s (formerly Caltex) Cape Town refinery as well as Engen’s Durban refinery. PetroSA’s Mossel Bay refinery has also been closed due to a lack of feedstock from offshore gas fields.

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Nonhlanhla P Dube

Nonhlanhla P Dube is a senior news reporter at Rateweb. Nonhlanhla is a student of International Relations at the University of South Africa. She reports primarily on personal finance and economics. You can contact her directly by email at nonhlanhla@rateweb.co.za

Published by
Nonhlanhla P Dube
Tags: FUELSasol
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