Good news for Eskom’s diesel problem

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan told parliament on Wednesday that his department has secured 50 million litres of diesel for Eskom from PetroSA.

This comes after Eskom told energy analyst Chris Yelland that it had stopped ordering diesel due to budget overruns.

Eskom said it had already spent over R11 billion on diesel – double its budget — and would only be able to order supplies again in April 2023.

This is a major concern, as Eskom uses diesel to power these open-cycle gas turbine (OCGT) power plants — a critical source of emergency electricity generation.

Yelland said that unless someone comes up with the money, Eskom had decided to make do without the capacity from its Ankerlig and Gourikwa OCGTs.

Energy policy and investment advisor Anton Eberhard explained that Eskom’s decision not to refuel its diesel OCGTs removes 2,067MW of rapid response resources available to the System Operator at the power utility.

“[This] at a time of intermittent and declining coal plant output, increasing the risk of more load-shedding and system failure,” Eberhard stated.

Gourikwa open-cycle gas turbine power station

Part of the problem is that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) previously refused to let Eskom fully recover its diesel budget overruns from consumers.

Eskom previously overran its diesel budget, justifying it by comparing the cost of running the OCGTs to the cost of higher load-shedding stages to South Africa’s economy — R500 million per day per stage of load-shedding.

However, Nersa argued if Eskom ran more efficiently, it would not have to resort to overspending on diesel.

National Treasury then raked Eskom executives over the coals about why they weren’t running a tighter ship.

Gordhan did not reveal how much the diesel being sent to Eskom costs, or who was paying.

News24 reported that the 50 million litres of diesel from PetroSA is enough for a few weeks, but not an entire month.

According to the report, PetroSA provides Eskom with 60 million litres of diesel per month, and it is not the only supplier.

Now read: Eskom nails truck driver for swapping delivery with sub-grade coal

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Good news for Eskom’s diesel problem