ZIMBABWE has passed new rules forcing fuel wholesalers to blend petrol with locally-produced ethanol in order to cut the country's fuel import bill, the energy minister said Thursday.
“We will make sure it's done,” Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma told AFP.
“We are going towards a green economy and we are talking of biofuel. This is to save the country and the planet, while at the same time we are creating our own industry.”
No operator will be allowed to sell unleaded petrol unless it has been blended with a minimum of five percent locally-produced ethanol, said the government notice seen by AFP on Thursday.
The move will come as a huge relief to Green Fuel, the US$600 million ethanol project at Chisumbanje which had teetered on the brink of collapse after failing to win government endorsement for mandatory blending.
Mangoma said the move was also expected to reduce the consumption of imported petrol and save scarce money for critical government projects.
The MDC-T minister had previously led opposition to Green Fuel’s proposals saying the company had not addressed various concerns including pricing of its product which retails at levels only marginally lower than unblended petrol.
“The Cabinet committee dealing with the issue has been asking for answers on why Green Fuel’s ethanol costs more than US$1.00 while in other countries prices average around $0.75,” he said last year.
“We want to know who is benefiting from the balance and why? The company should justify their prices and they have not done that; they are not cooperating with the cabinet committee.”
But with more than 3,000 jobs at risk as the company considered shutting down a Cabinet committee led by deputy premier Arthur Mutambara was appointed to help ensure the project did not collapse.
Economic analysts say Zimbabwe requires $45 million a month to import fuel.