TBS, PBPA tussle over bad fuel

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  • Standard watchdog pleas for leniency as import coordinator remains adamant

JUST a day after the disclosure of imported 36,000 metric tonnes of inferior petrol by the Daily News, coordinator of fuel imports has vowed never to allow the consignment into the domestic market.

The Petroleum Bulk Procurement Agency’s (PBPA) stance follows a Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) plea to the agency to allow the shipment, which has however failed the standard tests.

The multibillion shillings consignment was imported through the Bulk Procurement System (BPS) using an oil tanker, MT Alpine Meadow. TBS, the country’s standards watchdog, is reported to have stated that samples of the batch failed to meet the distillation requirements as per local standards; TZS 672:2012 and East African Standards; EAS 158:2012.

“As per laboratory tests that TBS conducted and submitted the results to us, we will not receive the consignment because it’s out of specifications,” TBPA acting Executive Director Engineer Lorivii Long’idu told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam, yesterday, adding: “It is surprising that TBS is giving us two contradictory opinions on the same issue... since the standard watchdog has confirmed that the fuel is out of specifications, there is no way we can allow it into the market.”

According to the letter signed by TBS Director General Prof Egid Mubofu and seen by this paper, the bureau conducted the laboratory tests, and reconfirmed the tests, concluding that the imports missed the standard specifications.

Professor Long’idu maintained that fuel importer, Trafigura Pte Limited, has to ship back the product to the refineries where it can be blended to meet the required standards.

The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) shared similar opinion, insisting that the Petroleum Act of 2015 and its regulations must be observed for any imported fuel.

“Regulations and procedures are clear; all petroleum products imported in the country must adhere to the requisite quality standards,EWURA acting Director of Petroleum Gerald Maganga told this newspaper. The director however said his office had not been availed with the TBS letter but admitted that PBPA had furnished the industry regulator with a copy of the letter for advice.

“We were clear to the importation coordinator that regulations on bulk procurement for petroleum products must be adhered to and inferior products should not be allowed in the market,” the official remarked.

Asked on whether the rejected petrol will subject the nation to fuel shortage, Mr Maganga allayed the deficiency fears, saying there is enough stock, excluding the oil tankers waiting at the Dar es Salaam port to discharge the precious liquid.

“As of Monday this week there was fuel stock to cater for the next 21 days and more ships are still docking with additional stocks,” Mr Maganga explained. The substandard petrol was coded QBA W 1025 and failed the standard requirements for distillation, known in the petroleum industry as ASTM D 86 final boiling point.

The consignment was imported by Trafigura Pte Ltd, one of the three companies, which won the tender to import fuel through the BPS for November. Other companies are Sahara Group and Audax Resources.

The product importer is required under the Petroleum Act of 2015 and its regulations to ship back the fuel shipment, refund companies that had placed orders and pay penalties to the authorities.

The average monthly domestic market demand for petrol, diesel, JET-A1 (jet oil) and kerosene procured through the BPS at the Dar es Salaam port stands at270,000 metric tonnes.

In addition, between 25,000 and 38,000 metric tonnes of petroleum products are imported through the Tanga port for supply in the northern regions.

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