RAINS have affected the harvesting of cane for ethanol production in Chisumbanje, prompting Government to relax the blending of petrol with ethanol from 15 percent to 10 percent. In a statement on Monday, Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire said heavy rains that pounded Chisumbanje in Manicaland affected harvesting of sugarcane by Green Fuel.
"The blending of petrol with ethanol has been progressing well until recently when a lot of rain made it impossible to harvest cane for ethanol production leading to the strained supplies.
"This supply strain resulted in the stocks that had been anticipated to take care of inevitable short production interruptions being reduced to very low levels.
"Given this development, the Ministry has relaxed the blending of petrol from 15 percent to 10 percent until adequate stocks have been built," Minister Mavhaire said.
Triangle, which also produces ethanol, has been asked to put its product on the market for three months.
Minister Mavhaire said the measures were taken to ensure consistent availability of petrol across the country.
Production of ethanol has since resumed at Chisumbanje.
"We need to assure the public that there is enough fuel. The ministry assures the public of its commitment to ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel to the motoring public and all other users," said Minister Mavhaire.
The development comes barely three weeks after a Zimbabwean citizen, Mr Tabani Mpofu, took Government to court over the mandatory blending rations.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera), Minister Mavhaire and Green Fuel were cited as respondents in the Constitutional Court application.
Mr Mpofu, through his lawyer Mr Tendai Biti of Biti Law Chambers, is contesting Green Fuel's monopoly and blending ratios.
He argues that the monopoly and blending ratios do not guarantee fair competition and are not in the interest of motorists.
This follows introduction by Government of mandatory blending ratios of E15 on November 30 last year.
The blending started with five percent ethanol and 95 percent unleaded petrol on August 15, following issuance of an ethanol production (mandatory blending) licence to Green Fuel on August 5.
The blending increased to 10 percent and then 15 percent as part of Government efforts to both cut the fuel import bill and to protect the environment from carbon emissions.