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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Suspect oil for testing abroad

18th April 2012
EWURA Director General Haruna Masebu

Oil companies have sent abroad for testing, samples of petrol they suspect to be contaminated, citing lack of urgency by authorities in dealing with the matter, it was learnt yesterday.

The contested fuel was supplied between January and March this year through the bulk procurement arrangement executed by Swiss-based Augusta Energy SA.

A source within the oil industry exclusively told The Guardian that the samples have been sent abroad for testing, parallel to the testing being undertaken by the Chief Government Chemist.

The companies have expressed concern that it was taking too long to get results of the tests, and that they were incurring losses.

In an interview, Haruna Masebu the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) Director General said there was no problem with the companies sending the samples abroad for testing.

“They can go ahead with their plan since we all want to get evidence whether the petrol is of required quality or not,” Masebu said.

He however clarified that it is only test results by the government chemist that will be considered when making decisions.

According to Masebu, three separate samples of petrol have been sent to the chief government chemist for laboratory testing following the complaints by oil companies through the Tanzania Association of Oil Marketing Companies (TAOMAC).

“They include samples from filling stations, stocks of the supplier as well as the sample retained by Petroleum Importation Coordinator (PIC). The results of these samples will be considered for any action,” he said.

He was confident that the test results will be released this week, explaining that the process has taken so long because of the requirement to get the samples from various sources.

Initial testing done by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) certified the oil as uncontaminated, but oil companies claim the product is blended with ethanol.

Augusta Energy has won three consecutive tenders to supply oil to Tanzania through the bulk procurement system from January to June 2012 with each tender covering two months.

The companies that have reported problems with the oil include Gapco, Engen, Mogas, Tiper, NATOIL, Hass, Kobil, OilCom and PUMA Energy.

The companies blame the oil for damaging their equipment, saying they are incurring financial losses in maintenance of the equipment, replacement of the product, repair of customers' vehicles as well as loss of revenue due to lack of sales. The oil marketing companies also allege in their letter that they are made to pay for a price differential of approximately 700 USD per metric tonne as the price of ethanol is about 30 per cent of pure petrol in the world market.

The letter has also been copied to the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Chairperson of BPS Technical Committee, General Manager of Petroleum Importation Coordinator (PIC) as well as Augusta Energy and all TAOMAC members.

In response, the Geneva-based firm said it had imported and supplied quality fuel which has been tested by responsible agencies.

“For the sake of good order we have presented to PIC, Ewura, and all receivers the certificates of quality for vessels supplied so far,” he noted.

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