THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has refuted reports that Government had scrapped mandatory ethanol blending, saying the blending will in fact resume soon.
When blending was first introduced in 2011, the government said it would reduce Zimbabwe’s import bill and lead to cheaper pump prices for fuel – but Zimbabweans never enjoyed reduced prices.
Zimbabwe’s fuel remains some of the most expensive in the region. Green Fuel, a company owned by Zanu PF financier Billy Rautenbach, enjoys a monopoly for the supply of ethanol used to blend imported unleaded petrol.
Reports that mandatory ethanol blending had been scrapped came out two weeks ago after Zera announced price fuels and also advised of the reduction of blending ratio from E10 to E0.
But in an interview with the Sunday Mail this Tuesday, Zera executive officer Edington Mazambani has said blending has not been scrapped. Mazambani said mandatory blending is an important policy for the country’s import substitution strategy.
“It is incorrect to state that the mandatory blending of unleaded petrol and anhydrous petrol was scrapped,” he said.
“The Government policy on the blending of petrol with ethanol in the country as an import substitution strategy has not changed.
“What happened is that in response to the shortages of ethanol from suppliers during this part of the season, Government decided to revert to E0.
“It is normal that during this period there are no supplies of ethanol due to various reasons, including the annual shutdown by producers for maintenance purposes. Generally, the sugar fields also become inaccessible during this season due to rains.”
Mazambani said once ethanol production has resumed and there are enough volumes of ethanol to blend, the programme will resume at different levels between E5 to E20 depending on the quantities of ethanol available.
The lifting of blending ratios had come with a relief to the motoring public which condemned the use of ethanol arguing that it made petrol more expensive and it was also damaging their vehicles.
Motorists bemoaned that with blending, a litre of petrol no longer met the expected distance travelled on consumption, meaning more fuel was being consumed per kilometre travelled beyond their comprehension.