Imported petrol ‘has ethanol’

Mr Kaguo
It has now been officially proved that petrol supplied between January and March, this year, through the bulk procurement system (BPS) contained more quantity of ethanol beyond specifications, it has been learnt.

This comes just a week after one of the local oil marketing companies, Gapco Tanzania, wrote to the Petroleum Importation Coordinator (PIC), reporting to have established the presence of yet another compound, methanol, in petrol supplied in April, this year. 

The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA)'s Manager for Communication and Public Relations, Mr Titus Kaguo, confirmed that the fuel was out of specification.

"It is true that we have received results from the Government Chemist, which reveal that the fuel consignment was out of specification (off spec). The petrol had more quantum of ethanol beyond the specification requirements," Mr Kaguo said through a text message.

He explained further that allowable quantum of ethanol on fuel destined for the local market should not exceed 9.5 per cent and such fuel had to be blended at processing plant (at a refinery) and not elsewhere. 

"We have communicated with TBS (Tanzania Bureau of Standards) about the results and TBS maintained that the product matched specifications.

EWURA is further studying the results including establishing why more ethanol has been found in the product before it submits a report to the EWURA Board for final decision/directives," he said. 

Oil marketing companies had last month accused the supplier of petroleum products through BPS, Augusta Energy SA, over what they claimed to be poor quality petrol supplied between January and March.

Swiss-based Augusta Energy SA won three successive tenders to supply oil through BPS from January to June, this year, with each tender covering two months. 

In a letter dated April 5, this year, addressed to EWURA, the oil companies, through their umbrella association, Tanzania Association of Oil Marketing Companies (TAOMAC), said they suspected the petrol to have been blended with ethanol.

"As provided under the BPS manual, we formally register a dispute with EWURA for handling and request the performance bond to be held by EWURA while the dispute is being handled," the letter, signed by TAOMAC Executive Director, Mr Salum Bisarara, read in part.

Reached for comment then, the Director General of EWURA, Mr Haruna Masebu, said the authority had submitted petrol samples from diverse sources to the Chief Government Chemist for further testing. "Samples have already been taken to the government chemist. Other tests conducted on the same by TBS have indicated that the fuel is not contaminated.

"However, we cannot ignore complaints from the public. We took the samples to the chief chemist because they have better equipment," Mr Masebu said then.  Nine oil marketing companies have reported various inadequacies with the fuel, ranging from malfunctioning digital flow meter, failure of dispensing units as well as failures of motor vehicles.

The companies include Gapco, Engen, Mogas, Tiper, NATOIL, Hass, Kobil, OilCom and PUMA Energy (formerly BP Tanzania).

As a result of the "poor quality fuel," the oil marketing companies say they are incurring financial loss in maintenance of equipment, replacement of the product, repair of customers' vehicles as well as loss of revenue due to lack of sales.

Reached for comment yesterday, the TBS's Head of Certification, Eng. Joshua Katabwa, upheld the tests conducted by TBS.

"Our stand is still the same that the fuel was clear. Otherwise you can speak to the Acting Director General for more information," he told 'Daily News' in a telephone interview.

The PIC Board of Directors Chair, Mr Mansoor Shanif, said he was unaware of the new development. 

"I am not aware of the results from the Government Chemist yet. But if EWURA has already received the results then they can issue a directive on the way forward," Mr Mansoor, also Kwimba MP through CCM, said.

The representative of Augusta Energy SA in Tanzania, Mr Orlando de Costa, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

The company's Managing Director, Giuseppe Nestola, said in a letter dated April 11, 2012, addressed to PIC and copied to EWURA, that the disputed fuel had legally acceptable levels of oxygen content of not more than 1.04 per cent which many oil marketing companies imported prior to commencement of bulk procurement.

"The certificate of quality indicates oxygen content of 1.04 per cent which is on specification for Tanzania standards but does not indicate if the oxygen is ethanol, methanol or other compounds, which is not required in Tanzania specifications," Mr Nestola argued in the letter which was also copied to TAOMAC.

He said that Augusta has always supplied the certificate of quality (COQ) at loading ports for all the cargoes discharged from December 2011 up to date.
Source: The Daily News,, reported by Alvar Mwakyusa

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