The Durban-based petroleum refinery of fuels, lubricants and oil-based products distributor and marketer Engen has undergone a temporary controlled shutdown, effective March 27, as a result of forecasted lower demand for petroleum products during the national lockdown which came into effect from the same day.
The Engen refinery produces about 17% of South Africa’s fuel.
South Africa is currently under lockdown to help slow the spread of Covid-19, with the vast majority of its citizens confined to their homes until April 16. Consequently, demand for fuel will be drastically lower during the lockdown period.
Engen assures that the refinery shutdown, however, will not affect its ability to service the core petroleum needs of motorists and commercial customers during the lockdown.
Motorists and business customers are assured that all necessary measures have been instituted across the Engen supply chain to ensure sustained delivery of core petroleum products over the coming weeks to its more than 1 000 service stations and business customers.
Engen MD and CEO Yusa’ Hassan says the company is already experiencing lower demand and is forecasting an even lower demand offtake, which will force the refinery to scale back beyond its safe operating envelope, which will increase environmental emissions risk.
Engen’s product inventory is currently high and building up fast, the company reports.
“This considered decision will enable us to support and maximise our offtake from the inland refineries to ensure they can continue operations and meet the inland demand,” he adds.
Hassan notes that, as a consequence of the temporary shutdown, as many as 600 additional employees will observe the stay-at-home restrictions during the national lockdown.