via Zim spends $744m on fuel imports – DailyNews Live 1 September 2015 by John Kachembere
HARARE – Zimbabwe has spent $744 million on petroleum products in the seven months to July from the import of 747 million litres of petrol and diesel, official statistics show.
This compares favourably well with $769 million the country spent last year in the same period for the importation of 838 million litres of fuel.
Figures recently released by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstat) indicate that the country imported 269 million of petrol from January to July this year at a cost of $253 million while 478 million litres of diesel were purchased at a cost of $491 million.
The latest figures come at a time when Zimbabwe is projected to spend $1,22 billion on fuel imports this year from $1,37 billion last year due to declining global oil prices.
Global oil prices have been declining since June last year from around $115 per barrel (a barrel of oil is approximately 159 litres) to a low of $44 per barrel as of August 31, 2015.
It is expected that the price of oil will remain depressed as the biggest cartel in the industry, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), has decided not to cut production.
The price of oil is critical to today’s world economy, given that oil is the largest internationally-traded good, both in terms of volume and value, creating what some analysts have called a hydrocarbon economy.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa early this year said the decline in the global fuel prices has significant multiple effects on oil-importing countries as a result of saving on fuel expenditure.
He suggested that the industry should come up with a template, which would help establish local fuel prices whenever there is an increase or decrease in crude oil prices.
However, local retailers were until recently reluctant to adjust prices despite the sharp decline in oil prices.
Although fuel retailers are currently reducing petrol and diesel prices to an average of $1,45 and $1,25 per litre compared to an average of $1,51 and $133 per litre a week ago, a research carried by businessdaily indicates that Zimbabwe’s fuel prices remain very high compared to other countries in the southern African region despite government’s unilateral decision in August 2013 to enforce mandatory blending of petroleum products.
The country is currently selling petrol mixed with 15 percent ethanol content (E15).
In neighbouring Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Swaziland petrol prices are pegged at $1,06, $1,19, $1,08, $1,29 and $1,14 per litre respectively.
Market experts say in Zambia — a landlocked country like Zimbabwe — unleaded fuel is currently selling for $1,10 per litre, and there is no plausible justification for high fuel prices in Zimbabwe.