HARARE, Dec 10– The fuel supply coming into Zimbabwe has increased from 120 million litres per year to around 160 million litres, says the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Energy and Power Development, Patson Mbiriri.

Zimbabwe imports most of its fuel via Mozambique through the Feruka pipeline which links the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to Mozambique’s port of Beira on the Indian Ocean.

Mbiriri told the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy here Tuesday that the government had introduced measures on the Feruka pipeline to ensure that the country had adequate fuel stocks at all times.

“This time last year we were importing four million litres of fuel, that is 2.5 million litres of diesel per day plus 1.5 million litres of petrol per day, and we were consuming four million litres a day. So we were living from hand to mouth. We were unable to build stocks,” he said.

“The only time we were able to build stocks would be during public holidays and in particular over the January period but if there were problems at Beira in respect of weather conditions then of course we were unable to build those stocks.

“We have since March this year introduced what they call a drag reducing agent, which allows fuel to move quicker within the pipeline and so we were able to increase the throughput from about 120 million litres
a year to about 160 million litres a year.”

Mbiriri said instances where fuel traders complained that their product was not being pumped on time had been resolved since the introduction of the drag reducing agents. “The next phase of ensuring that we have security of supply relates of course to putting in three booster pumps along the pipeline,” he added.

“That way we will be able to pump even more and then at some point in time change the series of pumps to bigger pumps that would take us to as high a figure of 280 million litres if not more per year pumped on the pipeline and this will give us time to address the need for a second pipeline and that work has started.

“In addition we are in the process of turning Harare into a major fuel hub and we are developing a second Gantry. At the moment we have two gantries one at Feruka and one at Msasa. We are building a third one,
that work should be finished this year if the weather is kind. That gantry can fill eight tankers at one time.”

He said the government had also purchased a depot in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo which would serve as a distribution point to Western parts of the country to increase fuel supply. “The current position is that we distribute fuel to the Western part of the country from Harare, that is unproductive, wasteful of resources and not logical,” he said.

Zimbabwe has witnessed increased demand for fuels due to use of generators to plug shortfalls created by electricity outages. The country has also experienced a sharp increase in vehicle imports from Japan.