Cape fuel supply starts to dry up
IOL Business - Dec 12th 2011, 09:37
A major fuel company says it has urgently diverted a fuel tanker on its way to Durban to Cape Town to alleviate a growing fuel shortage across the province and parts of SA.
Shell SA spokesman Elton Fortuin confirmed the fuel shortage to the Cape Argus on Friday, explaining that it was due to four factors:
- Production issues at several refineries across the country.
- Rail logistical constraints in connection with transport.
- An increase in the demand for fuel after the 11 cent price drop this week.
- Extra demand as holidaymakers fill up in preparation for the annual festive season migration.
“In Gauteng, diesel availability is particularly constrained.
“We are transporting fuel via road from Durban to alleviate the situation, but retail sites are at risk of intermittent fuel stock-outs,” said Fortuin.
“To address the petrol supply constraint in the Western Cape, we have diverted an import vessel from Durban to Cape Town, which we expect to arrive over the coming weekend.”
The Fuel Retailers’ Association (FRA) confirmed the shortages in Cape Town and Gauteng.
FRA chief executive Reggie Sibiya said certain types of diesel and unleaded petrol (ULP95) were in low supply.
“Diesel and ULP95 are topping the product list of shortages,” he said.
BP and Caltex seemed to be the worst affected, Sibiya said.
Caltex is a brand of Chevron SA.
Chevron SA’s spokeswoman, Suzanne Pullinger, confirmed on Thursday that the company’s Cape Town refinery was operating at lower production levels, which had reduced the supply of unleaded petrol.
“We have a contingency plan in place to address the situation, which includes bringing product by ship into Cape Town.
“We have asked our industry partners to do the same.
“We want to assure our customers that the current situation is high-priority and we will keep them updated on our progress in rectifying the situation,” she said.
However, petrol station owners in Cape Town were optimistic.
Hannies Parker, owner of Primrose Service Station in Surrey Estate, which is supplied by Engen, said Friday morning he received his order of diesel and petrol on Thursday.
Although he was not guaranteed a supply, he was expecting another load on Friday.
Gracious Amatu, a worker at the Engen garage in Bonteheuwel, said the petrol station had supply problems last week due to an order mix-up but that supply returned to normal this week.
Tania Landsberg, communication manager at the Engen garage on Orange Street, said the station was managing “fairly okay”, but that it was aware of the industry-wide problem.
Economist Mike Schussler told the Cape Argus that the fuel shortages would not have an impact on food prices.
“There could be a problem for growth of the economy but it depends on how deep the problem goes. It will get worse if there is a consistent problem with fuel supply.”
Schussler said one concern about the shortages was that they came at the start of the busy holiday season.
“Coming during holidays, it is a bad time; it is worrisome,” he said.
This morning, Western Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde, who had just landed in Durban for discussions at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) today, said: “These things drive me mad.
“Our tourism numbers are looking great, small businesses across the provinces are cranking their production lines to be ready for the season… and now this.
“We’re trying to grow the economy, we simply can't afford this.”
Winde said his office would be monitoring the situation “extremely closely”.
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