Zim launches new petrol blend

Harare - In effort to help stem rising fuel costs, the Zimbabwean government on Wednesday approved a new ethanol blend E85 in addition to E5 that has already been approved.

In a statement the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) said the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, after consultations, gazetted Statutory Instruments 23 of 2013 which specify the quality of E85 and other fuels that may be used in Zimbabwe.

“The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has approved the introduction of a new ethanol blend fuel E85 in Zimbabwe. The quality specification of E85 conforms to Standard Association of Zimbabwe Standard ZWS964 Part 4 and is based on internationally recognised quality standards for this type of fuel,” said Zera.

The approval follows the gazetting of 5% mandatory blending on petrol by government resulting in the production of E5 by licensed ethanol blenders’ countrywide.

Green Fuel, owners of the $600m ethanol plant is however still to obtain government clearance to start mandatory fuel blending. The multi-million dollar ethanol plant has been lying dormant for the past 15 months after it faced numerous challenges of which some were said to be politically related.

Zimbabwe imports between 30 and 40 million litres of petrol every month from Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait and the introduction of ethanol blended petrol E5 was expected to have reduced the country’s import bill by $2m monthly. The new E85 would undoubtedly present significant savings on fuel.

Apart from saving the country the much needed foreign currency, the new ethanol blend will also benefit motorists on the road, who will cumulatively enjoy significant savings.

The fuel is suitable for dual-fuel vehicles, cars which have an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually petrol blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel.

The soaring cost of petrol has not only been felt in Zimbabwe but also in other countries in the region. In South Africa fuel prices reached a record high of R13.20 at the reef for a litre of 95 unleaded petrol and R12.83 for the same grade of petrol at the coast.

On Wednesday Namibia announced yet another petrol price increase:  10 cents per litre on both 93 Octane Lead Replacement Petrol and 95 Octane Unleaded Petrol, bringing the new Walvis Bay pump price to N$11.04 per litre and the price at the coast to N$11.15 per litre respectively, citing the strengthening demand for and fluctuations in the global price for oil.

South Africa introduced mandatory blending regulations in August last year in a move that would see all motorists in that country using fuel with up to 10% content of ethanol.

By introducing mandatory blending, South Africa joined a number of countries – Brazil, China, Canada, India and the US among others – that already produce ethanol based fuel.

Analysts believe adoption of blended fuel by Zimbabwe and other regional countries will reduce the cost of fuel and will make the countries less susceptible to fluctuations in international oil prices.

 - Fin24

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