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Big petroleum lobby group bullies government to upgrade refineries

picture of petroleum refinery

A petroleum industry lobby group reports that if South Africa does not receive financial help for upgrades that are required to comply with new clean-fuel standards, the country’s already diminishing petroleum refining capacity could be harmed even further.

a logo of sapia which a petroleum lobby group

Avhapfani Tshifularo, executive director of South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) said in a statement that only two of the country’s six operating refineries are currently producing fuel, reflecting an 80% drop in output due to unplanned shutdowns. This information was provided by the executive director of the association. To conform to the standards set by the cleaner fuel regulations that will take effect in 2027, preparation and funding are going to be necessary.

‘A Petroleum lobby group that bullies an entire government’

“Pending decisions by refiners on the operations of their facilities, which will have a direct impact on employment and could potentially result in a larger dependency on imports,” he said. “These decisions will have a direct impact on employment.”

petroleum refinery at dusk

It would be challenging to make a case for upgrading the refineries in the absence of a financial support mechanism.

READ MORE: “Fuel shedding on the cards for South Africa”

Existing refineries

The Natref plant, which had a capacity of 108 000 barrels per day and was owned by Sasol and TotalEnergies, had to be shut down in July because of late oil shipments. This meant that none of South Africa’s oil refineries were producing oil for a variety of reasons, and it brought to light the country’s growing reliance on fuel imported from other countries.

A section of the plant that was damaged by an explosion in 2020 will be rebuilt at the Astron Energy refinery in Cape Town, which has a capacity of 100,000 barrels per day and is majority owned by Glencore Plc. This will allow the refinery to resume production, which could provide some temporary relief.

petroleum pipe being laid

However, according to Tshifularo of SAPIA, increased reliance on imports also brings about a number of challenges. Our existing port infrastructure is not equipped to handle increased imports of liquid fuel over the long term because it is not designed to do so.


How many refineries does South Africa have?

The country of South Africa is home to six major oil refineries. The following are examples of these refineries:

  1. Shell and BP are partners in the Sapref Refinery, which is situated in Durban and operates as a joint venture. Which produces 180 000 barrels per day.
  1. The Engen Refinery is a Petronas subsidiary that can be found in the city of Durban. It is owned by Engen Petroleum. Which produces 120 000 barrels per day.
  2. The Sasol Secunda Refinery is a facility that is owned by Sasol, which is a South African integrated energy and chemical company. It is located in Secunda. Which produces 150 000 barrels per day.
  3. The Astron Energy facility in Cape Town was formerly owned by Chevron but was recently acquired by Astron Energy, a subsidiary of Glencore. Which produces 100 000 barrels per day.
  4. The PetroSA Mossel Bay Refinery is South Africa’s national oil company and is located in Mossel Bay. PetroSA is responsible for the facility’s operation. Which produces 45 000 barrels per day.
  5. The Natref Refinery is a partnership between Sasol and Total and is situated in Sasolburg. Which produces 108 000 barrels per day.
sapia member sasol has a petroleum refinery in secunda

‘Cheap Russian oil’

As a member of BRICS, South Africa does have the option of importing cheap Russian oil as feedstock, however, it has not done so yet due to the Ramaphosa regime’s friendly posture towards the United States and the ever-lingering threat of unilateral sanctions that Washington hands out to any country willing to defy its bullying.

Russian oil is an important part of the world’s energy system. Russia is one of the biggest oil producers in the world. It has a lot of oil reserves and runs a lot of oil fields. The oil industry in Russia has been around for a long time, since the early 1800s. It has grown into a major part of the country’s economy.

russian oil tanker at sea shot from above

Russian oil companies like Rosneft and Gazprom Neft have become major players on the international market and export oil to many different countries. Russia’s economy grows because of the production and export of oil, which also has geopolitical effects on the price and supply of energy around the world.

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