PetroSA has 50m litres of diesel for Eskom, but permanent fix is in the works - Gordhan

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Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
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  • Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said Eskom would have 50 million litres of diesel immediately available from PetroSA.
  • Gordhan said he was working with Eskom and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to find a more permanent solution to the utility's diesel challenge.
  • When asked if extraordinary measures would be considered to fix Eskom, Gordhan said the government's current plans should be given a chance.
  • For more financial stories, go to the News24 Business front page.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said the government identified 50 million litres of diesel to make immediately available to Eskom from PetroSA, as the power utility awaits a more permanent solution to its diesel supply woes.

Gordhan was replying orally to questions from MPs on Wednesday afternoon. Eskom said last week it overspent its diesel budget and had no more cash to buy new stocks until April. Diesel is used to run Eskom's two open-gas cycle turbine power plants.

PetroSA is not the only supplier of diesel to Eskom, but it provides the power utility with about 60 million litres monthly.

READ | Eskom diesel plan will be announced in the coming days, says Gordhan

Gordhan said some of the diesel from PetroSA had travelled by pipeline and some by truck. He said the Eskom board was also looking at generation solutions, but more needs to be done in this regard. He said the board met with power station managers and definitive measures will be announced by next week.

"The department itself has been liaising between Eskom and PetroSA to find a way within the limited resources Eskom has, to find immediate availability of diesel to Eskom. By this morning, 50 million litres of diesel have been provided by PetroSA," said Gordhan.

Gordhan said options were identified along with Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana for a more permanent solution to the diesel challenge, and these were being evaluated by the National Treasury team. He said the Department of Public Enterprises expected a response from the National Treasury soon.

"We have taken steps to find funding. Firstly, as a matter of urgency, the Minister of Finance and myself talked on Sunday evening about where money could be found. Secondly, there was a meeting between my delegation and the Minister of Finance's delegation [where we talked] about the challenges Eskom faced," Gordhan said.

READ | Eskom pins hopes on R15bn Treasury support for diesel

DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia remarked that "anyone with a quarter of a brain" could see that Eskom was in a crisis with no end in sight. Cachalia asked if the minister would invoke National Security Act and National Key Points Act to allow Eskom to be fixed without hindrance.

Gordhan hit back, saying the government's interventions, including President Cyril Ramaphosa's energy plan and the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) should be given a chance to take effect.

Said Gordhan: "Anybody with a quarter of a brain will realise by now that the facts have been put to the nation in a very transparent way, that Eskom is in a perilous state, that state capture did do immense damage, that we do have a shortage of electricity to the extent of 4 000MW, and until we provide that source of MW through renewables and possibly through other mechanisms provided for in the IRP, we are going to continue to be in difficulty as a nation and our plan is in the next 18 months or so, we must get out of this crisis." 

Gordhan said unreliable generation continued to hamper the government's efforts to stabilise the grid, along with inadequate maintenance, corruption and continuing breakdowns, which have forced Eskom to use more diesel.

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