HARARE - Triangle Limited (Triangle) has stepped in with a three million-plus litres of ethanol supply — through government’s local blenders and partners — to avert possible fuel supply disruptions caused by problems at the preferred distributor, businessdaily can reveal.
This comes as the country’s sole licensed supplier and Billy Rautenbach’s Green Fuel (GF) has failed to meet supplies due to incessant rains at its Chisumbanje plant.
“Triangle indicated that they are able to supply at least four million litres to registered fuel blenders,” Adelaide Chikunguru, the company’s spokesperson, said last week, adding the lowveld supplier had “commercial agreements with registered blenders”.
Although the company says it had agreements “at competitive prices” for the deal, the South African-owned sugar processor was reportedly selling the “scarce” product at $0,80 per litre — a price it could not readily reveal or confirm.
Despite indications that Gloria Magombo’s Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority had approved the 15 to 20 point-premium on what Triangle was allegedly exporting at, the energy regulator had failed to respond to questions on this key issue by the time of going to press yesterday.
Under the Zanu PF-led government’s mandatory blending policy, only Green Fuel is licensed or accredited to trade the commodity, whereas the Sydney Mtsambiwa-led company was partially-licensed to avert an embarrassing episode for President Robert Mugabe’s government.
To support the controversial policy — that has attracted a constitutional challenge from Harare motorist Thabani Mpofu and been branded as akin to legislating a monopoly — unleaded fuel is banned in Zimbabwe.
With an installed capacity of 40 million litres of ethanol annually, Triangle has only been able to do or churn out 24 million litres due to low market demand and has a three-month window to sell the product under the temporary arrangement.
According to Chikunguru, the company’s domestic market was made up of alcohol and beverages manufacturers, and paint producers.
And arising from its intervention, government was able to pump 30 million litres of fuel into the market, thus lessening foreseen shortages of the key commodity.
As a war of words erupts over the Green Fuel arrangement, especially its shortcomings, a number of local car suppliers, including Nissan Zimbabwe, have said they will not provide technical guarantees for automobile owners beyond 10 percent blending ratios.
While the Agricultural Rural Development Agency (Arda)’s arrangement with the controversial tycoon has been couched as a panacea to fuel import costs, independent observers say the blended fuels have actually created extra bills for Zimbabwean motorists — in some instances by five percent.
Meanwhile, Arda chairperson Basil Nyabadza has debunked the myth about the actual investment at Green Fuel, saying the first phase had gobbled nearly $200 million and the “partners” were due to inject a further $200 million in the second phase — as part of a $1 billion outlay in the next decade.