Home South African Petroleum association throws weight behind diluted diesel probe

Petroleum association throws weight behind diluted diesel probe

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The South African Petroleum Retailers Association supports the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s investigation into the alarming trend of watered-down diesel sales at 70 petrol stations nationwide.

File picture: Ian Landsberg, African News Agency (ANA)

IN RESPONSE to reports about the investigation into the sale of diluted diesel at filling stations, the South African Petroleum Retailers Association (Sapra) has thrown weight behind the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) efforts.

Representing a significant number of petroleum retailers in South Africa, Sapra is a key component of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation.

An investigation by the Department of Mineral Resource and Energy has uncovered that between April and December 2023, 70 petrol stations across the country sold watered-down diesel to customers in an effort to maximise profits as petroleum prices continue their upward trajectory.

The adulterated diesel had allegedly been mixed with illuminated paraffin.

Lebo Ramolahloane, vice-chairperson of Sapra highlighted the importance of compliance in the industry, acknowledging that fuel adulteration has been a persistent issue.

“Fuel adulteration is definitely not a new problem, however, and one of the reasons Sapra, together with other key stakeholders in the sector, initially set up a Petroleum Compliance Forum in 2019. Its intention was to bring back some level of reform to the petroleum malpractices under way, which inadvertently erode compliant business margins, taxes to the fiscus, and impacts the integrity of consumer vehicles to perform optimally on South African roads,” Ramolahloane said.

In 2018, Sapra launched a whistle-blower hotline that has successfully reported illegal trade and transportation, leading to fines, penalties, and suspensions.

“The awareness created has made movement by illicit operators significantly harder. We have made a lot of good progress, but this is an area which needs ongoing and urgent attention, as evidenced by the recent probe,” Ramolahloane said.

He further pointed out the challenges in monitoring these practices.

“From a retail perspective, it is also very difficult to monitor as the mixing happens at depot level before it reaches our retail filling stations.”

He assured that Sapra members adhere to strict codes of conduct, and encouraged the public to report any suspicious activities via their whistle-blower hotline.

Ramolahloane highlighted the impact of these malpractices on unsuspecting consumers, who suffer financial losses due to engine damage, and on the economy, which loses billions in revenue.

Sapra remains committed to supporting DMRE and other stakeholders in preventing the sale of contaminated fuel.

“We are pleased to see many of the well-established filling station franchises have been cleared of any wrongdoing, and 70 stations are under investigation. While efforts continue to stamp out the practice, we caution consumers to be extremely wary of buying cheap diesel.”

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