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South Africans warned of a rise in dirty diesel sales

Petroleum distributor Royale Energy has warned local motorists of a rise in cases of fuel adulteration in South Africa, confirmed by samples collected at various stations by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

Adulteration is known as the addition of a liquid such as kerosene or illuminating paraffin to diesel, producing “an inferior quality product that can damage vehicles, reduce their efficiency, and increase the emissions of harmful pollutants,” said Mpho Dipela, director and shareholder of Royale Energy.

“Mixing diesel with paraffin to sell to unsuspecting customers is therefore illegal and service stations found with adulterated diesel could face immediate closure and prosecution.”

Since November 2020, over 200 cases of fuel adulteration were reported across the country, with Limpopo and Mpumalanga being the most affected.

An enabling factor is that diesel isn’t regulated in South Africa, leading to variations in prices from pump to pump. As such, many smaller station owners have taken to selling adulterated fuel unbeknownst to their customers in order to increase their margins.

“Consumers should therefore stick with trusted brands which have taken a firm stance against adulteration. Avoid the temptation of purchasing products at a price that is clearly abnormal compared to the competition,” said Dipela.

Government has already launched interventions to curb the trend, including police investigations using a “marker” that is inserted into the diesel and is able to detect the presence of paraffin, however, fuel adulteration still remains “one of the most serious problems in the country at present, impacting both environmental safety and public health.”

Paraffin demand skyrockets

Interestingly, paraffin data in South Africa points to a two-fold increase in consumption over the past three years, from 600,000 kilolitres annually to over 1.2 million kilolitres.

“Significantly, the number of people using paraffin for cooking and lighting has not doubled concurrently over this period,” said Dipela.

“Additionally, the rise has taken place against the backdrop of an increasing number of people living in poverty, which means that we should be seeing a lower demand for this fuel.”

These statistics raise major concerns about where all the additional paraffin is being used, with fuel adulteration expected to be one of the main applications.


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