South African motorists can expect a big drop in the price of petrol in August – however, a strike by workers in the petroleum industry could lead to a fuel shortage.
Mid-month data released by the Central Energy Fund (CEF) showed that petrol prices could drop by as much as 83 cents a litre, with diesel dropping 45 cents and illuminating paraffin down 42 cents a litre.
On Thursday, slate over-recovery showed petrol at 96 cents a litre, and diesel at 70 cents a litre.
However, motorists were advised to fill their tanks as soon as possible, as fuel shortages are expected to hit South Africa amid strike action which began on Thursday.
The strike is expected to involve more than 15,000 workers and will affect the transportation of fuel to petrol stations around the country, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern and Western Cape as well as Mpumalanga, according to head of collective bargaining at Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), Clement Chitja.
The strike involves workers in the fuel bulk depots, transfer facilities and the oil refineries and not those at service stations, who form part of a different bargaining council.
Chitja said said workers wanted a 9% increase, but employers were offering 7% for 2016.
He added that it could take about three days for petrol stations to run dry.
Reuters reported that work at the country’s largest refinery, Sapref, stopped on Thursday. Based in Durban, the refinery is a joint venture between Shell and BP.
In 2011, petrol stations across the country ran dry following an 18-day strike.
The Automobile Association (AA) advised all motorists to take the necessary steps to ensure they have fuel.
“It is our understanding that the strike will affect all refineries and depots of petroleum companies. This strike does not include petrol pump attendants, but will start to impact motorists once the pumps at petrol stations start to run dry,” the AA said.
The association advised motorists to ensure they top up their fuel tanks as regularly as reasonably possible. In addition, the AA said motorists should avoid taking unnecessary journeys, as well as stop-start driving to reduce fuel use.
“Driving with an air-conditioner on, speeding, and driving in peak hour traffic will consume fuel quicker. We therefore advise motorists to adjust their driving patterns as far as possible to ensure that the fuel in their tanks lasts that bit longer,” it said.