Zim fuel import bill declines

HARARE - Zimbabwe's fuel import bill has declined to $600 million in the first half of the year compared to $628 million spent last year in the same period as motorists feel the heat of the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.

The country’s estimated 1,2 million vehicles consume an average of 1,5 billion litres per year — both petrol and diesel.

Data recently released by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat) shows that the dealers imported petrol worth $209 million while diesel worth $390,3 million was purchased in the first half.

The latest figures come at a time when Zimbabwe is projected to spend $1 billion on fuel imports this year, down from $1,22 billion last year on the back of low disposable incomes precipitated by massive company closures.

Economic analysts said the decline in fuel consumption was also an indicator of disappearance of serious industrial activity in the country.

With considerable hydroelectric power potential and huge coal deposits for thermal power generation, Zimbabwe had been less dependent on oil as a source of energy, with the country’s fuel imports rising marginally in the last decade.

Analysts, however, indicate that demand for fuel is expected to escalate due to the establishment of a 200 megawatt diesel plant in Dema, which is expected to address erratic electricity supply in the country.

The country’s power utility, Zesa Holdings, has blamed the constant load-shedding on the unreliable coal supply situation as well as antiquated power generation machinery at most of its plants.

Yet the country has substantial coal reserves, and coal-bed methane deposits discovered in the Matabeleland province are said to be greater than any known natural gas field in southern or eastern Africa.

This could be used as an alternative energy source.

The massive power supply shortages have resulted in mining firms, manufacturing concerns and various other industrial and commercial enterprises resorting to use of generator power to sustain operations, resulting in increased fuel consumption.

Zimbabwe’s maximum power demand stands at 2 100 megawatts (MW), against internal dependable capacity of 1 100 MW from the Kariba Station (598MW), Hwange Thermal Power Station (447 MW) and three small thermal power plants with a combined dependable capacity of 42 MW.

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