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Government scrambles to find money for Eskom to buy diesel

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    Nat Quinn
    South Africa’s government said it’s urgently seeking funds to buy diesel needed to fuel auxiliary power plants after the state electricity utility said outages will intensify this week.
    Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan (pictured left, with energy minister Gwede Mantashe and President Cyril Ramaphosa) met members of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s board on Sunday amid “serious concerns” about the risk of increased load-shedding in the months ahead, his department, which oversees the utility, said in a statement.
    The outages are expected to deepen this week.
    Africa’s most-industrialized nation has been subjected to record power outages this year, mainly due to breakdowns at Eskom’s old coal-fired units plants that make up the backbone of its generation capacity.
    The utility has been forced to run turbines that run on diesel — intended for use during peak-demand periods — in order to mitigate unprecedented power cuts that have curbed economic growth.
    The loss-making, indebted utility already spent more than 11 billion rand ($634 million) on the fuel in the 10 months through October, Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer said last week.
    The electricity shortages — locally known as load-shedding — may get worse if funds to buy the fuel run out, he warned.
    “The DPE is urgently working with National Treasury and Eskom for it to find the money to buy supplies of diesel,” the Department of Public Enterprises said Sunday.
    The government is also “looking for savings” within Eskom’s existing funds.
    An Eskom spokesman and its media desk didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
    President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has announced measures to tackle the energy crisis, but those efforts haven’t bolstered security of supply, despite commitments made by officials
    Gordhan in September said electricity shortages would not decline to previous levels.
    South Africa this year more than doubled the amount of outages that were implemented in 2021, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
    The cuts this week are scheduled to reach Stage 5 — the equivalent of removing 5,000 megawatts from the grid — though the overall situation is erratic and subject to change, Eskom said Sunday.

    Government scrambles to find money for Eskom to buy diesel (mybroadband.co.za)

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