14 November 2012

Mozambique: Government Restructures Imopetro

Maputo — The Mozambican government has reshaped the sole body authorised to import liquid fuels, Imopetro, so that the state fuel company, Petromoc, will have a 51 per cent stake.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Minister of Energy, Salvador Namburete, said that the other 49 per cent of Imopetro will be held by the other fuel distribution companies, in proportion to their market shares.

The change was clearly motivated by the recent scandal of contaminated petrol, which damaged several dozen vehicles in Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola.

“We noted that, had Imopetro been organised differently it would have been in a better condition to prevent this incident with contaminated fuel”, said Namburete. “But we cannot guarantee that there will never be any problem with fuel in the future”.

The Minister could guaranteed however, that the fuel currently circulating is clean. “All fuel that will be consumed until the end of the year is already in the country, and without any problems”, he said.

But the government still does not know what caused the contamination, and the company hired to look into the matter has not yet announced its findings.

“We are still working with the specialists”, said Namburete. “We know that Tanzania had an identical problem recently, and we are learning with them how to deal with the matter”.

“We are meeting with the companies, analyzing what they have, and it is still not conclusive”, he added.

Meanwhile, the fuel distribution companies are compensating motorists whose vehicles were damaged by the contaminated petrol. Namburete said they have so far paid for repairs to about 50 vehicles.

The government decree does not merely concern Imopetro, but also seeks to improve licensing procedures, to ensure security in fuel supplies, and prevent the import of fuel containing impurities.

“We saw that there were some gaps that needed filling”, said Namburete. “We are going to improve control over the obligations of fuel operators who cannot, for example, paralyse their activities without any plausible motive, and this motive must be accepted by the licensing agency, which is the Ministry of Energy”.

The government’s new measures also grant priority to fuel tankers in docking at Mozambican ports, to avoid embarassing situations of parts of the country running short of fuel because tankers are in a queue to enter the ports.

The government has also decreed that fuel supplies for platforms, ships and other equipment used in offshore exploration must be purchased from the fuel distributors licensed to operate in Mozambique.

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