The Government says motorists do not have the luxury of choosing between blended or unblended fuel as the country is still grappling with fuel shortages, leaving no option but to stick to blended fuel, Parliament heard.
Some motorists have complained blended fuel does not last and damages their vehicle engines and despite the fuel blending programme, people still spend several hours daily in fuel queues.
Energy and Power Development deputy minister, Magna Mudyiwa, acknowledged fuel shortages were still a challenge, which necessitated the need for blending to continue.
“The decision to blend fuel with ethanol was meant to increase on volumes, we are all aware that we have a serious shortage of fuel in the country so if we don’t blend our fuel that will put so much demand on the forex we need to buy the fuel. That’s why we had a policy to do the blending,” she told Parliament.
Hon Mudyiwa was responding to questions from legislators on the mandatory use of blended fuel in the country.
Legislators Settlement Chikwinya and Job Sikhala argued that mandatory fuel blending was meant to promote a monopoly.
Blending was introduced by the government in 2008 following the licensing of Green Fuel’s Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant, which resumed operations in 2013.
The deputy minister claimed that at the moment, the blending of unleaded petrol with ethanol stood at five percent.
“At some point we were up to 20 percent. As to why there is no choice for motorists it’s because we don’t have enough fuel in the country for the motorists to make a choice on whether they want to use blended or unblended fuel,” Mudyiwa said.
She denied that fuel blending was tied to promoting a certain monopoly, as the government remained open on welcoming new players.
“I don’t think there’s a monopoly there, we have green fuels, we also have ethanol from Triangle where we have sugar cane fields. So there’s no monopoly there, if we have many players in the sugar cane plantation we welcome them to participate in the ethanol business,” the deputy minister claimed.
However, in April 2019, the government said it had increased the mandatory blending of unleaded petrol from five percent ethanol to 10 percent after an announcement was made in a extraordinary Government Gazette under the Petroleum Act (Chapter 13:22): Exempting from Levels of Mandatory Blending of Anhydrous Ethanol with Unleaded Petrol Notice 2019.
In December 2019, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) announced in a brief statement that “the blending of anhydrous ethanol with unleaded petrol has been reduced from E20 to E10.”
Meanwhile, ZERA chief executive, Engineer Eddington Mazambani, was quoted in the media saying blending of fuel is exclusively conducted by licensed blenders only and currently there are 11 operators.
Mazambani said five of the 11 fuel dealers licensed to blend petroleum products have blending depots in Harare and Bulawayo and the service stations can acquire either already blended or not blended fuel from National Oil Company of Zimbabwe which they then blend.