LEADING fuel company Total Zimbabwe has resumed selling unleaded petrol at its service stations despite government legislation prescribing mandatory blending of fuel with 15% ethanol, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
A survey conducted in Harare revealed that the multinational fuel concern is selling unleaded petrol at US$1,50 per litre.
Internal sources say the company applied for a licence some time last year exempting it from the mandatory blending requirement citing the failure of monopoly ethanol producer, Green Fuel, to produce enough ethanol for blending.
Total Zimbabwe refused to say whether they had been awarded the licence and why they sought one in the first place.
A senior employee however, suggested in a telephone interview that the shortage of ethanol could be the reason why unleaded petrol was now available at their stations.
“You have to speak to Noic (National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe) because whenever there is a shortage of ethanol, all the ethanol that is produced is taken to them for blending and distribution. They are the ones responsible and they or the Minister (of Energy, Samuel Undenge) can give you a global picture of what is happening,” said the employee who identified himself as Dominic Danha.
In a telephone interview, Noic head office contact person Peter Masvikeni said “such issues do not fall under the purview of Noic”. Undenge did not respond to calls or messages sent to his mobile phone.
The re-emergence of unleaded petrol comes amid the failure by Green Fuel to supply enough ethanol to meet mandatory blending requirements, with the company only resuming production three weeks ago after shutting down in December for maintenance work on its plant.
Despite re-opening, the company is yet to operate at full capacity because it is only harvesting cane from its Middle Sabi estates as the Chisumbanje fields remain inaccessible due to water-logging in the black clay soils.
Green Fuel failed to respond to questions they had requested to be sent via email.