Oil suppliers ready for solutions

Gunvor, the supplier of crude oil, says it is too soon to determine the source of contamination that was supplied to Zambia.

The company says it is however open to finding ways to resolve the problem.

Corporate affairs director of Gunvor Group Seth Thomas Pietras has said that it was premature to determine who was responsible for the contamination which has wreaked havoc with the Indeni oil refinery which constant shutdowns due to leaks casused by corrosion arising from the high  acid content of the commingled stock.

He said this was because the specific problem of crude oil contamination had not yet been clearly identified.

Government has said that it would pass on the costs of repairs at Indeni Petroleum Refinery to Gunvor following the delivery of contaminated crude oil.

Mr Pietras said  that regardless of the outcome, as a responsible supplier and partner Gunvor would be open to finding ways to resolve the situation.

“Since it is an open matter, we cannot comment on the particulars. It is, however, premature to determine who is responsible, given that the specific issue has not yet been clearly identified. Regardless of the outcome, as a responsible supplier and partner Gunvor will be open to finding ways to resolve the situation,” he said.

Minister of Energy Christopher Yaluma said in Parliament that Government had so far spent K10 million on repairs to Indeni equipment which had corroded because of high levels of acid in the crude oil.

Meanwhile, the Energy Regulations Board (ERB) says the recent hike in fuel pump prices were not triggered by the procurement of contaminated Crude oil.

ERB Executive Director Langiwe Lungu said the increase in fuel pump prices were determined by the international prices of crude oil and local currency exchange rate.

In an interview with Daily Nation yesterday Ms. Lungu said the cost of chemicals to process the contaminated Crude oil would not affect the fuel prices as Indeni Petroleum Refinery would incur the extra cost.

Ms. Lungu stated that the ERB played an advisory role in the procurement of crude oil stating that it is not duly involved in determining whether the oil is contaminated or not.  “We do offer an advisory role to Government in the procurement process, even now when there is a crisis and we know that chemicals will be procured so that the fuel is cleaned up.  “The prices only get affected when two fundamentals which are the exchange rate of the kwacha against the dollar and the price of crude oil on international market are affected,” she stated.

Ms Lungu charged that for contaminated fuel whatever needs to be done to clean it up whoever that is at fault will pay the cost.

“Whoever is at fault will pay for the extra cost. The chemicals cannot be a factor to increase the fuel pump price from the ERB perspective,” added Ms. Lungu.