By Ndakaziva Majaka
Zimbabwe, which banned the use of diesel 500 in 2007, is set to phase out use of diesel 500 (D500) next year as the country migrates to cleaner fuel, the regulatory authority has said.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) chief executive officer, Gloria Magombo, said the country had missed a June 2017 deadline for migration to diesel 50.
She said the D500 ban would start from March 1, 2018, with offenders facing possible prosecution.
Diesel 50 is a low sulphur diesel that contains 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur, which is lower than the regular diesel used in Zimbabwe that contains 500 ppm of sulphur.
“We will begin compulsory usage of diesel 50 on March 1, 2018 and the D500 ban will come into effect on this date.
Presently, fuel importers will be required to only import diesel 50 from next month.
“In light of this, selling any other fuel grade will then become a punishable offence as from March 2018,” Magombo told a recent media workshop.
Magombo said reduction of sulphur in fuels was going to benefit the motoring public as well as the environment.
“This will benefit the country in three major ways. These all evolve around environmental benefits, the motorist whose vehicle will be using the fuel as well as the vehicle’s internal system such as the exhaust system… “
She pointed out that after the adoption of diesel 50, the country would then migrate to diesel 10, a move expected to be completed by 2020.
Diesel 50 is more expensive than the regular diesel.
Zera data shows that diesel 50 is 1,5 percent more expensive than the regular diesel.
“This is only because it is making its way into the country through road, but as time goes on and we begin bulk ordering, the price is expected to go down,” Magombo said.
There have been concerns over the quality of local fuel, with reports suggesting that global commodity trading companies are dumping in Africa fuel with sulphur levels far higher than those allowed in Europe, causing health and environmental hazards.
A report from Swiss watchdog group Public Eye a few months ago revealed that the companies took advantage of weak African standards to use cheap and dirty additives to create “African Quality” fuels.
A number of retail outlets are already selling diesel 50, whose monthly consumption has increased from about 1,7 million litres in 2015 to about four million litres in 2016.