South Africa faces the possibility of fuel shortages when it hosts the 2010 soccer World Cup, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

“In the third quarter of 2009 we are expecting that South Africa won’t be able to supply our inland (fuel) needs unless something drastic is done,” Nhlanhla Gumede, deputy director-general of hydrocarbons and energy planning, told legislators.

“If we don’t do anything we are likely to have a problem in 2010,” Gumede said.

South Africa is the first African country to host the soccer World Cup, but a chronic energy shortfall has affected the country, cutting production in the key mining sector and regularly plunging millions of homes in darkness.

The energy woes have cast a shadow over preparations for the 2010 football showcase.

Gumede, who was briefing parliament on the government’s energy master plan, said a new fuel pipeline, expected to come on stream by 2010 but already behind ts construction schedule, could help avert potential inland fuel shortages.

State-owned transport group Transnet has been awarded a licence to build the 11 billion rand multi-product pipeline between the port city of Durban and South Africa’s commercial province Gauteng, the venue for the World Cup final.

The new pipeline will reduce South Africa’s reliance on poor and inefficient road and rail transport infrastructure used to ferry fuels inland from the coast.

“The pipeline is a key factor and that’s why we have to move on it quickly… There is a tight period that has to be very well managed prior to the advent of the pipeline,” Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin told reporters.

Erwin said there was sufficient time to head-off potential fuel shortages affecting motorists.

Gumede said the department of minerals and energy estimated the South African economy would suffer massively if there was no fuel.

He said: “22,2 percent of GDP is linked to the availability of liquid fuel. So if we don’t have liquid fuels this economy would lose about 1 billion rand a day.”

Gumede said Africa’s largest economy, a net importer of crude oil, was struggling to store enough fuel reserves to last beyond 10 days.

A new Energy Bill before parliament proposes strategic fuel stocks last at least 60 days, with commercial stocks at 28 days.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Reuters
DATED: 19th June 2008