South Africa uses ships for diesel storage to stave off load-shedding

South Africa is utilizing ships to store diesel as part of an effort to ensure supply to run generators and reduce electricity outages that have crimped the economy.

Diesel-fired turbines typically intended for peak use have been increasingly run to meet demand while state-owned utility Eskom’s poorly maintained coal plants remain susceptible to frequent breakdowns.

South Africa doesn’t have enough storage capacity onshore, prompting the use of vessels off the southern coast near Mossel Bay to store the fuel.

“As there is limited storage, PetroSA has taken a process of using floating tankers to ensure that product is readily available as and when required according to forecasts as agreed with Eskom,” the state-owned oil company said in a letter to stakeholders dated 18 October.

There were four tankers designated to deliver diesel to PetroSA “to supply key customers” and one carrying gasoline, it said.   

There were six tankers offshore Mossel Bay on Friday, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

Eskom didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.  

The utility has spent more than R18.9 billion ($1 billion) on fuel in the year through March 31, more than double the previous period. It’s often exceeded the use of the open-cycle gas turbines on a monthly basis compared with last year.


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