South Africa rations diesel after refinery shutdowns curb supply

South Africa has implemented diesel rationing, as demand recovered more quickly than expected after a lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus was eased.

More than half of South Africa's refining capacity was shut amid the lockdown, which started March 27, that restricted activity to essential services curbed demand. Those rules were eased and some industries were allowed to start operations this month.

"The opening of the economy has resulted in a more rapid recovery than expected," the South African Petroleum Industry Association said in a statement Tuesday. Stock rationing has been implemented to manage demand and to preserve supplies, and is expected to continue to the end of May, it said.

Stockpiles of diesel are running low, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said in a reply to questions.

Unplanned equipment shutdowns were also a factor in the shortage, Sapia said. The Engen Durban refinery restarted May 16 and the country's biggest oil facility, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and BP known as Sapref, began to ramp up on May 18.

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