Whinsley Masara, Business Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has dismissed the allegations being circulated on social media pertaining to the quality of petrol in the country in particular its ethanol content.
In the past few weeks, messages with statistics revealing ethanol content in blended fuel by specific service stations have been circulating on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
The social media reports alleged that filling stations such as Glo Petroleum and Puma blend the fuel with 18 percent and 21 percent ethanol respectively while Zuva (32 percent), Total (21 percent) and Engen (21percent).
Zera acting chief executive officer, Mr Eddington Mazambani told Business Chronicle that the blending ratio of unleaded petrol and anhydrous ethanol obtained in the market, at any given time was consistent across the country.
He said as at the end of December 2018, the compliance ratio of blend was at 99,4 percent across the country and no fuel retailer was caught with over-blended petrol in 2018.
“Zera wishes to assure the public that the blending ratio of unleaded petrol and anhydrous ethanol obtained in the market, at any given time is consistent across the country and in line with the legal provisions as issued by the Minister of Energy and Power Development in terms of the Petroleum Act, from time to time.
“Blending of fuel is exclusively conducted by licensed blenders only and currently there are 11 such licensees who abide and comply with Zera regulations. Any other blending by unlicensed operators is illegal and fuel retailers are aware of the severe consequences,” said Mr Mazambani.
Five of the 11 fuel dealers licensed to blend petroleum products have blending depots in Harare and Bulawayo and the service stations can acquire either already blended or not blended fuel from National Oil Company of Zimbabwe which they then blend.
Mr Mazambani said Zera consistently conducts routine infrastructural and quality inspections at each and every blending site and fuel service stations across the country.
“The inspection process includes among others, assessing compliance of the fuel product with prevailing blending ratios.
“The public is assured that the blending ratios of fuel in Zimbabwe are the same at every fuel site and these are periodically monitored for compliance with mandatory blending regulations,” he said.
Zera also offers mobile fuel quality laboratory services as part of assuring the nation of quality fuel products.
“We carry out routine and random tests and also focus on trouble spots and fuel quality complaints.
“Anyone caught selling fuel not meeting quality standards is prosecuted in terms of fuel quality regulations SI 23 of 2013,” said Mr Mazambani.
Blending of petrol is governed by SI 17 and 147A of 2013 which sets the maximum blending level at 20 percent and the blend level was set from time to time by the Minister of Energy and Power Development.
Mr Mazambani said the existing blend level as of January 2019 was at five percent and last month it was at 15 percent.
“Tests carried out countrywide showed full compliance with these blending levels.
“Please also be advised that last year 13 cases of fuel quality violations were prosecuted nationwide and there was not a single case of over blending noted,” he said.