New petrol rules fuel SA carmakers’ fire
THE government and South Africa’s vehicle manufacturers are headed for a showdown over proposed new fuel regulations that could make both cars and fuel more expensive.
The Department of Energy stands accused of putting South Africans’ lives at risk by not meeting global standards for clean fuel and of sabotaging the competitiveness of the car manufacturing industry.
In a strongly worded letter to the department‚ the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA proclaimed itself “incredulous” at draft regulations published by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
Naamsa director Nico Vermeulen said the new regulations opened the door for the manganese content of local fuel to increase‚ meaning worse pollution from fuel emissions.
He said that if the draft regulations were enacted‚ it would mean that local fuel would not conform to European standards.
This also means South African car manufacturers must assemble two versions of each model — one built to handle local fuel‚ and another built to European standards‚ where clean fuel is used.
Such duplication would cost the country’s economy and was unnecessary‚ Naamsa argued.
“The government is dragging its heels. The initial deadline for clean fuel in South Africa was 2017. Now we will be lucky if it is 2022‚” said Vermeulen.
But the energy department’s deputy director-general: planning and policy‚ Ompi Aphane‚ said the government was keeping an open mind and would finalise the process only by March.
He also said the differences in opinion in the oil sector on the extent to which manganese as an octane booster should be added to fuel‚ meant the department was considering widening its consultation from a closed regulatory process to public participation.
“We will take into consideration the inputs and interests of the oil sector‚ the car manufacturing sector‚ the manganese sector‚ health and environment issues‚ as well as the added cost to the consumer if we implement European fuel standards ... significant capital investment in refineries would be financed by a higher consumer fuel price‚” said Aphane.
“In the end‚ we will take the decision which is best for the country‚ obviously taking into account the impact on the export market.”
DA energy spokesman Gordon Mackay said the issue of cleaner fuels had barely received attention from parliament as a result of the current administration’s obsession with pushing through the nuclear deal.
“Oil companies and the government refuse to pay for upgrades to refineries to ensure cleaner fuels‚ meaning that at some point consumers will carry the cost‚” he said.
‘ Open door for the manganese content of local fuel to increase