The country is pulling in a number of different directions trying to sort out the issues regarding Eskom, but a new red flag is flapping on the horizon, this time in the petroleum sector. The problems illustrate the operational issues at the state utility. Crude refining capacity has been declining, refining plant is ageing and inefficient, investment into new capacity has stalled, and loss-making state-owned enterprise PetroSA’s senior management is facing corruption charges. It looks all too familiar. According to the SA Petrol Industry Association (Sapia), crude oil refining capacity has declined from 513,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2007 to 508,000 bpd in 2017, having risen from 368,000 bpd in 1994. Synthetic fuel production capacity has remained static at 195,000 crude oil equivalent barrels per day since 1994. According to the energy department the country fulfils its fuel requirements from gas (5%), coal (39%) and imported crude oil (56%). SA has six refineries, of which four...

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