Fuel marking to begin 2017

HARARE - Zimbabwe's fuel marking programme aimed at stamping out “dirty” petroleum products that have flooded the local market damaging cars and prejudicing the government potential revenue is set to commence beginning of next year, a government official said.

Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive Gloria Magombo said the regulator had received buy-in from all its stakeholders — which include fuel dealers, retailers, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), ministry of Finance and others — around the issue.

“We have since received a project buy-in from all our stakeholders and expect to begin the programme in January next year.

“We launched with a stakeholders workshop and are going to tender towards next week. I am positive the roll-out will be January 2017,” Magombo told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy recently.

She said while Zimra had since installed trackers on fuel trucks passing the country as fuel in transit ends up on the local black market, more needed to be done.

“This is mostly being done by unscrupulous dealers avoiding duty obligations. And Zimra is doing all it can to track all transit fuel trucks, however, I believe that the problem will be completely solved through fuel marking,” the Zera boss said.

Magombo’s remarks follow concerns by local motorists over the quality of local fuel amid indications that Swiss commodity trading companies are blending and dumping dirty fuel in West Africa with sulphur levels far higher than those allowed in Europe, causing health and environmental hazards.

A report from Swiss watchdog group Public Eye recently revealed that the companies took advantage of weak African standards to use cheap and dirty additives to create what’s called “African Quality” fuels.

The practice is not illegal. The report quotes companies Oryx, Trafigura and Vitol as noting that the blends meet standards in the importing countries.

Energy ministry principal director Stephen Dihwa is on record saying local traders are “adulterating diesel, paraffin and Jet A1 products” which are imported duty-free.

“Studies indicated that such practices were not unique to Zimbabwe but are prevalent.

“To stamp out these malpractices, countries have resorted to fuel marking in order to identify offenders and punish them accordingly,” he said

“Fuel marking will ensure maximisation of revenue collection through minimising dumping of duty free export or transit fuel in our market, smuggling and adulteration of dutiable fuel with non-dutiable fuel,” Dihwa added.

Magombo has in the past denied claims that the country imported dirty fuel from Switzerland.

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