Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
Government has issued a third ethanol production licence to a yet to be disclosed company as a way to curb shortages of the blending liquid.
This is in light of an increase in fuel consumption in the country.
The development was announced by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Edington Mazambani, while presenting oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power last week.
Mr Mazambani had been summoned to parliament to speak on the erratic fuel supplies that have seen queues in several service stations across the country.
Responding to legislators who wanted to know about the availability of ethanol for the purposes of mandatory blending, the ZERA acting CEO said there are no ethanol shortages at the moment but as a response to the rising petrol consumption, one more ethanol producer had been licensed to augment production from Green Fuel and Triangle.
He, however, could not be drawn to disclose the name of the firm. Zimbabwe’s petrol consumption rose from about 1, 6 million litres per day in January to about 3 million litres per day in October and this has largely been due to vehicular traffic increase on the roads.
“On ethanol I am pleased to advise that we have just licensed another ethanol producer who should start producing soon. We have no problems with regards to the supply of ethanol in the market at the moment,” said Mr Mazambani.
“But ordinarily round about this time every year we may actually go to zero (for ethanol supply) because the producer in Chisumbanje cannot access their fields to harvest (sugar) cane,” he said.
Mandatory blending currently stands at 15 percent but Government has previously been forced to lower the ethanol threshold due to its unavailability on the market. Green Fuel, on its part, has been increasing its capacity so as to meet demand.
In an interview with The Herald earlier in the year, Conrad Rautenbach of Green Fuel said the company was growing its capacity from 40 million litres in 2016, 56 million litres in 2017 and 75 million litres this year.
“These increased yields equated to a 40 percent increase in ethanol production, from 40 million litres of ethanol in 2016, to 56 million litres in 2017,” said Mr Rautenbach then.
“We expect to increase our production to approximately 75 million litres this year. Our yields should remain consistent and with the additional cane we have planted, we are confident that we will be able to reach this prediction. We are in the process of planting an additional 1 500ha of sugar cane in order to increase our production by a further 20 percent, to 90 million litres in 2019,” he said.