Hundreds of tankers hired by Trafigura and Dalbit are transporting imported petroleum products directly from the ports of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique.
Not a single Zambian company has been engaged in the fuel transportation which according to Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma has been necessitated by Indeni Petroleum Refinery failure to supply and meet national demand.
Yaluma has claimed that Zambia had embarked on the expensive venture of importing finished petroleum products because Indeni Petroleum Refinery, Zambia’s sole crude oil refinery company has obsolete equipment
Yaluma said that Indeni Petroleum Refinery had outlived its usefulness and that government had started exploring alternative means to avoiding fuel shortages and that importing finished petroleum product was the only option available currently.
Yaluma said that Indeni was not meeting the country’s demand for fuel which had resulted in perennial shortages of petroleum products because its life span had reached its limit.
“Indeni Petroleum Refinery has outlived its usefulness and cannot meet the country’s demand. In fact, it is running obsolete and all we are doing is that we are pushing it along; otherwise its production capacity has fallen more than three fold.
“Government is considering the building a new refinery as one option and the other would be the construction of a new Pipe line. The original annual production capacity of Indeni was 1.1 million litres but this has drastically dropped to 300 000 litres per year. So we have no choice but to import finished products and transport it by road to various parts of the country,” Yaluma said.
The Minister said government was now considering investing in the building of a new refinery or the other alternative was to construct a new petroleum pipe line that would be used to pump finished petroleum products adding government was weighing the viability of the two options before deciding which mode of transportation would be cheaper, quicker and convenient.
He said Zambia was currently importing three quarters of the finished petroleum products and the fuels were being transported by road to various depots across the country.
The Minister said the original annual production capacity of Indeni Petroleum Refinery was averaged at 1.1 million liters of fuel but that the capacity had since dropped to only 300 000 litres annually, leaving the country with a deficit of more than 1 million litres.
Yaluma said government had contracted a lot of companies among them Trafigura that were trucking finished petroleum products into the country from Dar er Salam.
He however said the contract for Trafigura was about to expire and could not tell whether the company had again applied for contract to source petroleum products for the country.