Friday, 15 April 2022 17:36

SA Petroleum Industry Association allays fears of fuel shortages.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association cautioned the public about the dangers of panic buying fuel from retail service stations as this will contribute to further retail sites running out of fuel. 

This follows reports that some fuel stations in Durban already ran dry on Thursday due to interruptions in supply caused in the aftermath of flooding in KwaZulu-Natal.

eThekwini municipality spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela confirmed on Friday afternoon that a number of fuel stations have run dry and more might end up in the same situation as demand is expected to pick up.

A notice issued by the eThekwini municipality explains that the recent floods have caused extensive damage to Bayhead Road, an important access route to the Durban Container Terminal and Island view complex.

To enable the movement of essential goods from the terminal while Bayhead Road is being repaired, port stakeholders have agreed that the Bluff route will be used by the trucking industry effective from Saturday 16 April.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) said in a statement on Friday that there is adequate petroleum product availability in the country following the recent floods in KZN.

While there has been an impact on operations across the supply chain, there is no immediate risk to the availability of fuel. The movement of petroleum products is, however, challenging with a number of sites running dry across the province. Replenishments are planned from areas outside of Durban and the situation is being monitored.

SAPIA urges the public to avoid panic buying as this will contribute to further retail sites running out of fuel. 

"Work to the damaged infrastructure is underway, with the clearing of debris at the Durban port. Shipping of petroleum products is currently halted. Most of the Island View terminals have been restored and pipeline injections have commenced. Pipelines were not affected by the floods," stated SAPIA.

The closure of the main access road to Island View, the primary storage area at the Durban port, has resulted in limited loading of fuel trucks. An alternative route to access the port is enabling a 20% loading capacity. 

Railway operations out of Durban have been paused due to mud coverage and railway tracks being washed away. Repairs to the rail lines are expected to take eight days. 

"The Sapref [refinery] remains flooded but all staff have been accounted for. The industry is working together with its stakeholders to safely restore all operational infrastructure and mitigate any further fuel supply risks," states SAPIA.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal called on Premier, Sihle Zikalala, and the MEC of Economic Development, Ravi Pillay to immediately assess the widespread reports of fuel stations running out of petrol.

The impact and subsequent challenges post the KZN flooding is now having a disastrous effect on the provincial economy and cleanup operations, said DA in a statement.