THE worldâ€™s fifth largest integrated energy company, Chevron, will soon close seven of its nine depots in Zimbabwe, as it scales down its operations in Africa.
Impeccable sources in the American firm said hundreds of Zimbabweans would lose jobs before year-end as a result of the closure of the depots.
The sources said a team from Chevronâ€™s regional offices in Cape Town, South Africa was in Zimbabwe last week to explain the scaling down of operations in the country and in Africa.
â€œChevron is scaling operations not because it is not posting profit in Zimbabwe,â€ one of the sources said. â€œThe Zimbabwe operation is generating a lot of foreign currency, but it was felt that it needed to streamline its operations. The biggest client of Chevron is Zimbabwe, contrary to peopleâ€™s view, is not the government, but Zimplats.â€
However, the source declined to reveal the volume of fuel the company sells monthly to platinum mine or how much foreign currency the fuel company generates.
The depots to be affected include Banket, Chegutu, Gweru, Hwange, Masvingo, Mutare and Rusape. Most of the depots were no longer operating, although employees were still on the payroll.
Â This development, sources said would result in Chevron, formerly Caltex, operating only two depots â€” Harare and Bulawayo â€” servicing flagship fuel stations and corporates under the Direct Fuel Import scheme.
The sources said Chevron Zimbabwe â€” which belongs to the American companyâ€™sÂ greater African-Pakistan-Middle East region â€” was now working on the retrenchments packages of the workers to be made redundant.
There were fears in the fuel industry this week that Chevronâ€™s decision could affect fuel supplies in the country and trigger a price hike.
Local fuel prices are generally higher than those of regional and international markets against a backdrop of price slashes that emerged after massive bailouts by European governments and the United States on the a near collapse of leading financial markets.
The absence of indigenous crude oil production and refining capacity means that the country entirely depends on fuel imports in order to power the motor industry and manufacturing sector. Diesel for transport remains the biggest consumer of fuel followed by the troubled mining sector.
Aggregate depot storage capacity available in the country is broadly estimated at about at 500 million litres.
Efforts to get comment from Chevronâ€™s chief executive Masimba Kambarami were fruitless as he was reportedly out of the country on business.
Finance director Farai Nyamukapa professed ignorance on this development, although he hinted that the company could scale down operations in the future.
â€œI donâ€™t know about that, Nyamukapa said. â€œThere could be changes, but certainly not now.â€
By Bernard MpofuÂ