Eskom’s latest 50 million litres of diesel won’t last a month

  • Eskom has received 50 million litres of diesel from PetroSA so it can continue easing the brunt of its loadshedding.
  • This comes through an agreement government has reached with PetroSA, but as Eskom burns 3.33 million litres of diesel every day, this latest amount won’t even last until the holidays.
  • With Eskom’s fleet still struggling, PetroSA’s diesel boost is more of a quick and dirty fix than any meaningful solution.

At the beginning of this week, Eskom indicated that it was forced to implement higher levels of loadshedding due to the fact it had utterly run dry of its diesel supply.

South Africa’s only electricity utility uses the fuel to power its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) and lessen the blow of loadshedding, but as Eskom’s tanks physically ran dry last week, South Africans had to face the full brunt of all its breakdowns.

Eskom said that due to its lack of diesel and its lack of budget allocated to buy more diesel, South Africans would have to deal with erratic and heightened loadshedding until April 2023.

This obviously did not sit well with the government and plans were scrambled very quickly to address this issue.

On Wednesday, Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan told parliament that government had made 50 million litres of diesel to Eskom from the publicly owned company PetroSA.

A fix that seems a bit like putting a plaster on a gaping axe wound. “Courtesy of the diesel supplied by PetroSA this week, Eskom is able to reduce loadshedding during the night to Stage 3 (from Stage 4),” the utility said in a statement published on Twitter.

“The department itself has been liaising between Eskom and PetroSA to find a way within the limited resources Eskom has, to find immediate availability of the fuel to Eskom. By this morning, 50 million litres of diesel have been provided by PetroSA,” said Gordhan.

From April 2022, Eskom chief operating officer Jan Overholzer revealed that Eskom spent R7.7 billion on diesel this year so far. The company has said that it is as of November 2022 twice over its diesel budget for the year already.

From 1st April 2022 to 11th September 2022, Eskom reportedly burned through 3.33 million litres of diesel every day. At the current state of its breakdowns, Eskom no doubt will continue burning diesel at this rate if not more so.

According to our quick calculations, Eskom will burn through this latest supply of fuel from PetroSA in 15.01 days, which means that the supply will not even cover the country into the holidays and year-end.

There have as of yet been no reports of what the 50 million litres of diesel cost the government to send to bail Eskom out, but Gordhan indicated that options were being discussed with the Ministry of Finance and National Treasury to find a more permanent solution to Eskom’s fuel problem.

According to Media24, PetroSA already supplies 60 million litres of diesel to Eskom on a monthly basis, but it isn’t its only provider. Gordhan, answering questions at parliament, said that some of the supply travelled by pipeline and some by truck.

But at least while it lasts, the diesel returning to Eskom’s OCGTs means that loadshedding gets a bit more manageable but breakdowns across the company’s fleet remain high.

As of Wednesday, four units at the Camden Power Station were offline adding to breakdowns being experienced at Grootvlei, Kendal and Tutuka. Hopefully, the utility can return more of its fleet towards generation before the diesel expires around 7th December.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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