CWC

Diesel Supply Now a National Emergency in South Africa

By Toyin Akinosho, in Lagos

South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, has burned between 20-Million to 25-Million litres of diesel in recent months by running two open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) power plants as a last resort.

Phakamani Hadebe, CEO of Africa’s largest power producer, says the utility has so rapidly burnt up the fuel in a short amount of time that there are no diesel stocks available in South Africa, except for cars and small utilities.

Eskom resorted to the use of OCGT plants which use diesel (because there’s no natural gas supply logistics), as the country’s large “fleet” of coal fired plants are in suboptimal performance.

The Gwourikwa and Ankerlig thermal plants in the Western Cape, commissioned between 2007 and 2009, have a combined name plate capacity of around 2,000MW. They were intended to supply electricity into the National Grid during peak hours and emergency situations. They should originally be fuelled by natural gas, but South Africa’s cluelessness around natural gas utilisation has forced the country to use far more expensive diesel to fire these turbines.

Diesel availability is such a national emergency that Parvin Gordhan, South Africa’s charismatic Minister of Public Enterprises, told a media briefing that Eskom was in discussion with National Treasury and the Auditor-General for guidelines which will allow emergency procurement processes
for maintenance and the purchase of diesel.

Hadebe says that Eskom is expecting a shipment of diesel to be offloaded in the next couple of days and relieve the pressure on the grid by March 22.



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