By Robert Tapfumaneyi
GOVERNMENT has actually kept the price of fuel at manageable levels despite the weekly increases through blending, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) said Tuesday.
In a statement in response to public concerns around the quality of fuel especially petrol on the market, Zera said it had strict monitoring mechanisms and these were being adhered to by all companies.
“Without blending the pump price of unleaded petrol would be significantly higher than it is now,” the regulator said.
Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst energy crises with shortages of both electricity and fuel causing headaches to industry and the general public. After deadly riots broke out in January over a 150% fuel price hike, authorities have resorted to small but consistent increases that have thus far added up to over 500% since then but with muted public reaction.
According to Zera the regulator is consistently inspecting fuel for quality and is satisfied all is in order.
“90% of petroleum fuel used in Zimbabwe comes by pipeline from Beira to Feruka, Mavhuku and Msasa depots where it is subjected to strict quality tests before release into the market, all petrol coming by pipeline is blended with ethanol to a gazette level, currently 20% at National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) or at licensed blending sites,” said Zera.
In the market, Zera said it also routinely conducts quality inspections at all fuel selling points across the country and prosecutes offending operators.
“Zera wishes to assure the public that the blending ratio of unleaded petrol and ethanol obtaining in the market is consistent across the country and is in line with ZWS964.3 standard for E20 blend,” said the statement.
“From January 2019 to august, the average compliance rate to fuel quality standards was 99.2% across the country with only one site being prosecuted for having contaminated diesel.”
The energy regulator’s statement comes after the media was awash with some motorist complaining that petrol from some service stations is giving them far less mileage than before.
Suspicion abound that government was secretly increasing blending of petrol with ethanol to 40% in a bid to overcome the fuel crisis that has engulfed the nation more than a year now.