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Eskom workers protest over salary increases outside the Lethabo Power Station in the Free State. Picture: ZIPHOZONKE LUSHABA
Eskom workers protest over salary increases outside the Lethabo Power Station in the Free State. Picture: ZIPHOZONKE LUSHABA

Eskom’s spending on diesel for the year so far is more than double the amount the utility budgeted for.

The state-owned power company has spent about R4.14bn on diesel since January against a budget for the period of R2bn. During June total spend amounted to R1.54bn, against a budget of R700m.

The overspending on diesel was partly due to Eskom having to consume more diesel than expected to avoid load-shedding, but also due to high global crude prices, Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said at a media briefing on Friday.

Illegal strikes by Eskom workers have been directly responsible for about 2,700MW of generation capacity being offline (roughly equal to three stages of load-shedding) on Friday. Eskom has been consuming considerable quantities of diesel to make up for a shortfall in generation capacity and avoid resorting to higher stages of load-shedding.

Earlier this week Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the utility had been burning about 2-million litres of diesel a day at both its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), Ankerlig and Gourikwa, which have a combined generation capacity of 2,000MW.

Diesel reserves, he said, were being depleted quickly, especially at Ankerlig, where diesel is replenished via road, but there was a vessel due to deliver fuel that will arrive only at the weekend.

During stage 4 load-shedding Eskom has to use on average eight OCGTs to support the power system. Each of these units burn 14l of diesel a second, said Oberholzer.

De Ruyter said that wage talks were under way with the unions that represent the bulk of workers at Eskom.

Workers have been demanding above-inflation, double-digit increases of about 12%, but Eskom was initially offering only 4%-5.3%. The new wage offer discussed on Friday at the central bargaining forum was a one-year 7% raise on a sliding scale, with higher earners receiving slightly less.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have repeated appeals by Eskom management and minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan, urging bargaining workers to end their illegal strike and get back to work.

However, according to Eskom, at the three power stations most badly affected by the strikes, Matla, Hendrina and Arnot, 90% of workers had still not returned to work by Friday.

erasmusd@businesslive.co.za

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