New fuel pipeline will come at a cost

Brian Molefe, CEO of Transnet, told his audience at opening of the 550 kilometre multi-product fuel pipeline between Durban and Johannesburg that the cost of the new installation “will have to be recovered”.

In his opinion, the new pipeline “was one of the most cutting-edge and innovative infrastructure investments in the world”, the cost involved being given at R23.4bn at this stage, he said. It is understood that Transnet has applied to NERSA for a further 22% increase in tariff charges for the coming year, according to reports.

Last year’s tariff increase for fuel pumped is understood to have been just short of 60%. January 2012 has seen the new installation working alongside the older pipeline but the new line is only configured for diesel at this stage, with limited pumping facilities along its length.

Coming on top of a recent 43c per litre fuel price increase and the minister’s November call for “an audit” into refinery shortages, both fuel and electricity supply problems would seem to be moving in the same dismal direction leaving government and suppliers further apart.

On an up-beat note, Molefe told his audience that “the state-of-the-art pipeline” would also transport 93 and 95 octane petrol, low sulphur and ultralow sulphur diesel and jet fuel at a rate of “about three-million litres an hour”.  He said that eventually the capacity of the line was expected to be in the region of 26.7-billion litres of fuel a year.

Transnet pipelines head Charl Möller said the new pipeline would be upgraded in five phases up to 2032 as more pumping stations and metering points were added.

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