By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has assured users that petrol blending in the country is within the threshold stipulated by the law.
The assurances come in the wake of complaints by sections of the motoring public that the commodity does not last amid fears that unscrupulous fuel retailers were blending beyond the 20 percent stipulated by Government.
But in a statement, Zera said it is routinely conducting impromptu checks at blending sites and service stations and all their checks have so far proved that dealers are sticking to the set 20 percent threshold.
“Zera wishes to assure the public that the blending ratio of unleaded petrol and anhydrous ethanol obtaining in the market, at any given time is consistent across the country and in line with the legal provisions as issued by the Minister of Energy and Power Development. . . ” said Zera in a statement.
“Blending of fuel is exclusively conducted by licensed blenders only and currently there are 11 such licensees who abide and comply with Zera regulations.
“Any other blending by unlicensed retailers is illegal and fuel retail operators are aware of severe consequences. Zera consistently conducts routine infrastructural and quality inspections at each and every blending site and fuel service station across the country.
“As of end of May 2019, the average compliance rate to petrol blending was 100 percent across the country. There was no fuel retailer caught with over blending in 2019,” said the energy regulator.
Petrol blending was introduced 2008 following the licensing of Green Fuel’s Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant, which resumed operations in 2013 as a strategy to cut the country’s fuel import bill as well as promote local industry.
Government, however, reduced the blending threshold in January as the local suppliers failed to provide the requisite ethanol component for all the petrol that was being consumed on the local market.
However, the threshold was reviewed upwards to 10 percent in April and was reviewed upwards again this month to the current 20 percent.
Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi announced the upward review in an Extraordinary Government Gazette published on June 7, in terms of the Petroleum Act (Chapter 13:22): (Excepting from Levels of Mandatory Blending of Anhydrous Ethanol with Unleaded Petrol) Notice 2019.
“It is hereby notified in terms of Section 4(1) of the Petroleum (Mandatory Blending of Anhydrous Ethanol with Unleaded Petrol) Regulations 2013, published in Statutory Instrument 17 of 2013, that the Minister of Energy and Power Development approves the current level of mandatory blending to 20 per centum,” read the notice.
“The consequence of this approval is that all licensed operators shall from the date of publication of this notice, be mandated to sell unleaded petrol which is blended at E20.” The Herald