HomePoliticsMidzi steps up bid for fuel deal

Midzi steps up bid for fuel deal

Dumisani Muleya

GOVERNMENT has stepped up efforts to seal a joint-venture deal with Libya’s Tamoil Trading Ltd in a bid to end the four-year fuel crisis.

“Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Official sources said yesterday that Energy and Power minister Amos Midzi was pushing the Libyans to agree a deal that has been on the cards since last year.

The Libyans have been in the country for the past three weeks to pursue the establishment of a joint fuel concern to be named Tamoil-Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd. The company would be a 50:50 partnership between Tamoil and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim).

The visit to Zimbabwe by the Libyans followed President Robert Mugabe’s recent trip to Tripoli where he held talks with Muammar Gaddafi over the fuel crisis. After Mugabe’s visit, officials claimed fuel would be coming “as soon as possible”. But shortages have persisted.

Midzi said yesterday negotiations over the deal were still going on.

“Negotiations on the formation of Tamoil-Zimbabwe are still on,” he said. “I don’t think it would be fair for me at this time to release any information on that. But you will get to know very soon.”

However, Midzi told parliament last November that Noczim had already entered a deal with Tamoil.

“I would like to take this opportunity to advise the House that Noczim has entered a joint partnership, 50:50 with Tamoil to establish Tamoil-Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd,” he said.

“This company is to be involved in wholesale procurement and distribution of fuel to retail outlets which will carry the Tamoil brand.”

Midzi confirmed at the time that Noczim would advance state assets as part of capital outlay in the deal.

“As part of its contribution Noczim will put forward some of its existing assets such as storage tanks. The proposed arrangement is not different from the joint venture that existed between Noczim and Total Zimbabwe.”

The deadlock over the sale of strategic state assets to the Libyans is at the centre of the current negotiations. The Libyans want to buy the fuel pipeline between Mutare and Harare that supplies fuel that comes through Beira in Mozambique. They also want to acquire storage tanks in Msasa.

The Libyans want to achieve this by buying Noczim’s 50% equity in Petrozim, which is jointly owned by the heavily-indebted parastatal and Lonrho. Petrozim owns the assets in question.

The Libyans also want to acquire government’s 51% stake in the Oil Blending Enterprises Ltd (Obel), which is a joint venture between government and Total. Obel is a crucial supplier of lubricants. Government has already sold the country’s major storage tanks in Beitbridge.

Fuel industry sources said government was contemplating compulsory acquisition of BP/Shell assets in Harare and Gweru – which are also large facilities – to dispose of them to the Libyans who want to establish a stranglehold on the market by becoming the major supplier, wholesaler and retailer of fuel.

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