How many Hiluxes you could fill with the amount of diesel Eskom uses in one day

Over the past five and a half months, the amount of diesel Eskom has burnt at its open-cycle gas turbine (OCGT) power stations was enough to fill the fuel tanks of over 41,000 Toyota Hilux bakkies or around 74,000 Volkswagen Polos every day.

During a recent update on the state of the country’s power system, Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer revealed the utility had spent around R7.7 billion on diesel from April 2022.

For comparison, figures previously shared by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan showed that Eskom paid R6.407 billion on diesel over the entire 2021 financial year.

Eskom had burnt through more than 571 million litres of diesel last year.

Gordhan also revealed that Eskom consumed another 273 million litres of diesel in the first five months of 2022. That had cost the utility R3.843 billion, working out to roughly R14.08 per litre.

Eskom buys diesel at wholesale prices and gets a discount for purchasing in bulk, which is why it pays significantly less than motorists.

Open-cycle gas turbines at the Ankerlig power station

Dividing the  R7.7 billion in expenditure from April 2022 to September 2022 shows that Eskom has bought roughly 546.82 million litres of diesel for the year-to-date.

Divide that figure by the 164 days that have passed between 1 April 2022 and 11 September 2022, and you end up with 3.33 million litres consumed every day.

To put these numbers into perspective, we calculated how many typical car tanks you could fill.

Most non-modified Hilux bakkies boast a tank capacity of 80 litres.

That means you could have filled around 41,678 Hilux bakkies with the diesel Eskom bought for its OCGTs every day of the year up to 11 September 2022.

However, the Hilux’s tank is a bit bigger than the average vehicle sold in South Africa.

A Volkswagen Polo TDI has a 45-litre tank, which is one of the most common sizes for mid-sized hatchbacks and small SUVs in the country.

The average of 3.33 million litres Eskom consumed per day would be sufficient to fill 74,094 tanks, with a few litres to spare.

If the cheapest car in South Africa — Suzuki’s S-Presso — was offered with a diesel engine and it had the same 27-litre capacity, you would be able to fill up 123,490 units.

Way over budget

While the actual amount of litres bought is likely lower because diesel prices have shot up in recent months, the expenditure makes for scary reading on its own.

Oberholzer acknowledged Eskom’s reliance on OCGTs was much too great, and the utility could not afford to spend as much as it has been on diesel.

“It’s really a serious concern that we do have…We are way over what we’ve estimated and forecasted the expenditure will be,” Oberholzer said.

“We’ve got R350 million left of the original year’s budget, and we are only mid-way through the year.”

But Oberholzer said the utility did not really have a choice. “It’s really a tough place where find ourselves,” he said.

“You don’t have the money, but you need to utilise your emergencies because you don’t have the capacity to supply the country.”

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How many Hiluxes you could fill with the amount of diesel Eskom uses in one day