The South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) has confirmed that the production and distribution of petroleum products is continuing during the 21-day national lockdown, as the liquid fuels industry forms part of essential products and services.
Although two refineries are currently shut down, Sapia confirms that security of demand is not at risk.
Fuels, lubricants and oil-based products distributor and marketer Engen halted its Durban refinery’s operations on March 27 for a temporary controlled shutdown. In a statement, Engen indicated that the controlled activity was the result of forecasted lower demand for petroleum products during the national lockdown as significantly fewer people would require petrol.
Petroleum products supplier Astron Energy’s Cape Town refinery also shut down operations for planned maintenance prior to the national lockdown.
However, in compliance with Covid-19 regulations, all non-essential maintenance work has been delayed.
Startup of Astron Energy’s refinery will likely be delayed until the end of May.
In line with this, Sapia reports that there is a demand decline of close to 60%.
Sapia executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo says the petroleum industry remains vigilant and will continue to monitor the situation throughout this period to ensure that the demand for supply is consistently met.
“The highest precautionary measures have been put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of all employees required to deliver these services and products.”