South Africa Suffers Fuel Shortages as Strike Takes Hold

Updated on
  • Chevron, Sasol workers began industrial action last week
  • Refineries still operating, deliveries disrupted, group says

South Africa filling stations are experiencing shortages after petroleum industry workers went on strike last week, just as a planned drop in regulated retail prices could spur more demand by motorists.

“There are service stations especially in the Gauteng province that are
short of some fuel grades,” Avhapfani Tshifularo, executive director at the South African Petroleum Industry Association, said by e-mail, referring to the nation’s richest province that includes the capital, Pretoria. “Deliveries are delayed due to the strike, but refineries are continuing to produce petroleum products.”

More than 20,000 members of the South African Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union began striking on July 28, seeking a 9 percent pay rise and a minimum basic monthly wage of 8,000 rand ($576). Companies including Sasol Ltd., Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s Engen, Chevron Corp. and Total SA are offering a 7 percent improvement in pay.

No meetings have been planned with the union, National Petroleum Employers’ Association Deputy Chairman Zimisele Majamane said by phone. Clement Chitja, head of collective bargaining for the CEPPWAWU union, didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Retail fuel prices at South Africa’s 4,600 service stations are regulated by the government. The 95-octane gasoline grade will decrease by 99 cents to 12.35 rand per liter in Gauteng on Aug. 3, the Department of Energy said July 29 in a statement. The strengthening of the rand against the U.S. dollar decreased the cost of mostly imported fuel.