Tag Archive | cleaner fuels

South Africa to stick with published fixed fuel pricing

On briefing parliamentarians in the portfolio committee on energy on fuel pricing in South Africa and the planned “roadmap” for the future of liquid fuels being undertaken by government, Muzi Mkhize, DG of hydrocarbons in the department of energy (DOE), indicated that South Africa would continue on its current course of formula-based fixed fuel pricing for the foreseeable future.

He said this was DOE’s preferred option rather this than go for a “liberalised” system, such as is the case in Australia, where market forces operate within a structure overseen by a state consumer and competition watchdog.

The department’s director for petroleum and petroleum infrastructure policy, Jabulani Ndlovu, told parliamentarians that the import parity pricing system was being retained, with zonal pricing fixed according to magisterial districts.

A transport cost allowance built in based on least price working from pipeline to rail, then as last option, road delivery will continue.

Under questing from MPs as to whether Sasol would ever be allowed to operate independently and fix its own possibly lower prices,  he said that both Sasol and those imported crude oil and who had built refineries locally to all had to be equated in the same pricing model.

If Sasol were to follow such a course, Ndlovu said. The consequent consumer shift would be totally beyond Sasol’s capability to supply and at the same time threaten the whole of the current national refining structure, particularly where continued investment was needed by current oil companies as far as the development of cleaner fuels was concerned. He told parliamentarians that a course involving a completely free market would never be on the department’s strategic agenda.

Ndlovu explained that the basic fuel price (BFP) was based on a parallel pricing structure, or comparison made with an “importer buying the refined product from overseas seller and transporting the same to the market place in South Africa incorporating such costs as losses at sea and landing.”  It is to be assumed that he also meant to include storage costs.

However, Ndlovu said, the BFP system resulted in under and over recoveries in the light of changing crude oil prices on an agreed global market cross section and the national BFP, calculated on the first Wednesday of each month, corrected the previous month’s price differential. But then levies had to be added, he said.

This amounted to a pipeline levy run by Transnet to the interior for capital cost recovery; a levy on the quantity pumped whatever the product and a dye levy to curtail the illegal mixing of paraffin and diesel.

He then explained to parliamentarians that in addition there was a “slate” levy, a self-adjusting mechanism to finance the effect of cumulative petrol and diesel grades under recoveries realised by the petroleum industry and run by SAPIA, the petroleum association, in response to daily changes between the BFP and the petrol and diesel and price structures as announced by the state monthly as per the monthly fuel price media statements. The “slate” is cleared when reaching once exceeding R250m and re-distributed back to the industry.

On the issue of illuminating paraffin (IP) and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) the formula for each was explained, most of the problems existing, particularly in the case of IP, where products were sold on the open market and exploitation of the poor in rural areas often took place due to lack of alternative sources.

On external exported finished product, a number of neighbouring countries who bought diesel and petrol products  from SA did not necessarily have the same structure of levies, Ndlovu said, accounting for the fact that sometimes landlocked neighbours had fuel that was cheaper than in SA.

On the 20-year “roadmap” that was being planned for South Africa by DOE in an attempt to ensure that the country retained access to “reliable, affordable, clean, sufficient and sustainable sources of energy to meet the country’s demand for liquid fuels”, DOE confirmed that the department was three months behind in producing such a plan.

This Jabulani Ndlovu said, was because of the “difficulty in getting data from the oil companies” but under questioning from MPs, he admitted that there has been incompatibilities in the way questions were put to stakeholders making the answers difficult to supply due in the main to a lack of understanding on how the industry worked and separation of data facts according to the question asked.

He said DOE had leant much in the process of compiling such a “roadmap” and that it was being undertaken to encourage investment, promote diversity of supply to deal better with supply disruptions and to ensure an “integrated government response in dealing with issues on liquid fuels.”

DG Muzi Mkhize promised that the plan would be released in draft form by 30 January 2013 and the final report published by 15 February. He said he hoped DOE would be undertaking a refinery audit next year.

Neither DG Mkhize nor Jabulani Ndlovu would be drawn on the subject of “Project Mathombo”, PetronetSA’s proposed refinery for the Coega port area, nor would they be drawn on how the products would reach the market, whether by pipeline or rail.

Ndlovu said that this, they understood, was still in “feasibility study stage” with an international funder and the whole issue of any finished product emanating from the Eastern Cape had not been taken into account in the “roadmap”.

Posted in Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments

First round of IPP producers named for grid supplies

In the first round of allocation of bidders in terms of the department of energy (DOE) renewable energy allocation procurement programme, 39% of the allocated 3625MW for independent power producers has been decided upon.

Parliamentarians were told that the number of “passing bids” was 66.5% of those submitted, resulting in a total capacity of 1415 MW of the 3725MW to be procured being taken up at this stage.

By far the greatest number of projects was solar energy projects, either solar voltaic or solar CSP, with slightly over 30% being wind projects. Twenty eight projects in all were found to be acceptable.

No biomass, biogas, landfill or small hydro projects were submitted in this round, or “window” as it is referred to by DOE.     All projects decided as acceptable were from Eastern, Western and Northern Cape. In all some 68 applications were received.

Ompi Aphane, acting deputy director, DOE, told the portfolio committee of energy that small 100MW projects would be handled separately, the original procurement documents for the bidders for larger scale projects having been released during August 2011 and the compulsory bidders conference held in September for these and for the second window now to be considered.

All documents have been treated as confidential by all parties and are still treated as such in view of the fact that the process is ongoing.

Evaluation of projects on the issue of land rights where, Aphane said, South African law “was antiquated and not clear”, have and might give difficulties. The same applied to municipal issues insofar as relationships and responsibility might be concerned, he said.

On the whole such issues would be the concern of the supplier to sort out but it had to be remembered, Aphane said, that at the same time all such problems were “everybody’s problems and it would serve South Africa best to sort them out at every level.”

On land matters as well, there might be problems in agricultural areas concerning projects that involved good arable farming land but very little in the way of problems were land was fallow had arisen so far or had been pointed out by the evaluators. Registration of leases or proof of land use application had to be shown in submissions.

Commercial legal issues, economic development priorities, financial oversight and technical issues had all been studied and a large evaluation team made up of international legal experts, well known local legal evaluation teams and technical consultants had been assembled. Financial evaluation had been undertaken by Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Under questioning by parliamentarians it became evident that all competitors had to be at least 40% South African owned. When asked if there were any landfill, biogas, and biomass projects that had become evident in early bidding under the second window period, Aphane said that such had not arisen at all, nor were they expected to be, mainly because they would be of a minor nature insofar as they would fall under projects providing 100MW or less.

Hydro projects had not arisen. He also commented that projects emanating from “fossilisation processes” were disallowed.

On whether the same extended and expensive evaluation process would be applied to the second and third round of bidding, Aphane said that “DOE had learnt much from the processes applied in the first round” and that the ground rules established by both experts, consultants and official bodies could be applied henceforth.

Questions on final pricing per unit of electricity arose and deputy director general Aphane said that this could not be discussed at this stage for reasons of security but in his mind as the bidding progressed he would expect to see the final price dropping.

DOE was working itself on a figure of something in the region of “R2.75 to R2.80 a unit” before bidding opened. This may go down, he said, but the final price had to apply to all involved in all bids.

Aphane confirmed in answer to questions that the “position with regard to legal difficulties on the licensing of independent operators with NERSA, the national energy regulator, had been resolved”.

Further questioning from parliamentarians resulted in Aphane confirming that the current IPP energy exercise was not in any way connected to the South African government overseas investment exercise with foreign companies on energy renewables, known as SARi.

On finance, once all bidding was completed, the three windows were closed and the final results were known and contracts granted, Aphane said, DOE was particularly aware of the problem of a sudden importation into South Africa of a large quantity of equipment from overseas and the effect this might have upon the rand.   Steps were in hand to counter this, probably by phasing in start dates.

Final questioning came from parliamentarians on the issue of land once again, particularly when the issue of litigation by present land owners arose either on matters of expropriation or proximity.

Aphane said that DOE could not be involved in such matters, which were the supplier’s problem.  However, broadly speaking, if any such problem arose in terms of it becoming a national problem, it would then naturally become a “South African problem as a whole” and this would have to be dealt with. DOE would monitor the situation.

The exercise regarding the “whole question of smaller 100MW or less, self-sustaining and possible minor contributions to the national grid” would be studied at a later date, he said.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments

Industry Incentives on cleaner fuels the big issue, says the DOE

 

It was desirable that issues regarding human health have a proper alignment with the fuel industry, said Muzi Mkhize, chief director-hydrocarbons, department of energy (DOE), when he addressed the portfolio committee on energy on the cleaner fuels programme at present being conducted in South Africa.

But in giving out incentives for industry to invest in new plant, government had to ensure that it got “bucks for the bang”.    Mkhize said that in regard to the original regulations on emissions, fuel specifications and standards following the prohibition of lead additives, the DOE programme known as CF1 “did not go very well”.

DOE’s more recent plan, CF2, has been to follow EU developments and the “EU5 standard specifications” in the area of cleaner fuels, and then to align such with SADC countries. He would not be drawn on specifics asked by MPs on issues regarding certain refineries having different suppliers and differing oil qualities. Also he did not elaborate on progress with SADC countries on the issue.

Again, octane structures established in terms of the CF2 programme for both coastal and inland regions of South Africa 2006, bench-marked in terms international fuel specifications, were delayed, Mkhize said, primarily whilst DOE digested lessons learnt from CF1 and the pressing need to delay things for there to be uninterrupted supplies during World Cup.

Mkhize said that the new EU5 and CF2 fuel specifications were needed to with the original objectives in mind:

•    To reduce harmful emissions
•    To encourage trade with internationals
•    To avoid SA being a dumping ground for low grade fuels and old vehicle technology
•    To allow new vehicle technology to gain a foothold
•    To protect jobs at refineries; car manufacturing and accessory sectors

As part of the “road map”, Mkhize noted that DOE continues to engage National Treasury in terms of legislation to finalise the exact regulations needed for new fuel specifications but this was “in the knowledge that the refineries would have to spend approximately R40 billion to bring their plants up to speed”. As such, this involved the issue of incentives to do so, he added.

Also, solutions on concerns raised by oil companies during workshops and debate regarding such cost recovery issues and other incentive matters were now being tackled as a priority, Mkhize said, bearing in mind that operational structures on fuel specifications were now urgent bearing in mind that CF2 had to also cover the investment period from the present to the final operational date for refineries in 2017.

Mkhize said that in DOE’s view, “the way forward had to include top-down and bottom-up approaches” but if incentives were to be deployed, which was a decision yet to be made, then how to get value for money for the incentives offered was the issue facing government.

Posted in Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments

Gordhan gives out strong message on carbon tax

en:Primorye Power Plant in Luchegorsk, Primors...

Image via Wikipedia

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is reported to have told lawmakers in Cape Town that a revised carbon tax policy paper is definitely due sometime in the course of 2012 and that government has agreed in principle to the need to price carbon emissions and on the phasing in of a tax based on such a pricing structure.

BUSA has, in the meanwhile, called upon the cabinet for relevant ministers to engage further on a framework before implementing any such proposals on a carbon tax, especially given recent electricity price hikes and rising costs to the consumer. Similarly, the Manufacturing Circle said it “would welcome the opportunity for engagement”, with the caveat that a carbon tax, if not applied suitably, would “hurt manufacturing and jobs”.

National Treasury has argued previously that such a tax was necessary to create incentives for the public and industry to change behaviour and to encourage cleaner-energy technology and energy-efficiency amongst the public.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments


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