No ethanol back-up: Mavhaire

via No ethanol back-up: Mavhaire – DailyNews Live by Kudzai Chawafambira  21 JANUARY 2014

Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire has admitted that government in its joint venture with Green Fuel had no backup plan in case of shortages of sugar cane for ethanol production.

This comes as Green Fuel’s ethanol stocks diminished resulting in government backtracking on its December decision to revise upwards its mandatory ethanol blending levels to E15 from E10.

“I buy your argument that we should have had a strategic reserve, that’s what you are trying to say,” he said in response to question about back up plans to mitigate ethanol supply shortages during a press conference on Wednesday last week.

“However, we do plan every year… we throw in a lot of seed in the ground and unfortunately when we don’t have the rains, nothing happens.

“So in this case if it was last year, we could have been in a normal situation so you are the only one together with God to say the rains are coming or not.”

The country could experience intermittent fuel supplies as ethanol stocks are thinning.

There is raising concern about the judiciousness of the August 2013, policy, which has precipitated a constitutional challenge about the rationality of the move and other issues including compatibility of the fuel to certain cars.

Although Mavhaire has tried to downplay the potential crisis, saying they were attributable to “recent rains that have made it impossible to harvest cane for ethanol production”, industry insiders said Green Fuel’s woes were bigger, including an alleged lack of planning. “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,” he said.

Crucially, South African-owned Triangle — a low-level and not fully licensed producer — has been roped in to “put some of its ethanol on the market for three months”.

“These measures have been taken to ensure consistent availability of blended petrol,” the Masvingo senator said.

Although President Robert Mugabe’s government had introduced a five percent mandatory blending in August last year, it quickly up rated the ratios in support of the $600 million project.

As things stand, Mavhaire had already planned to raise blending levels up to 20 percent by March this year, despite growing concerns over the ethanol fuel’s effects on certain cars and that garages would not provide warranties beyond 10 percent.

As it is, Thabani Mpofu’s Constitutional Court (ConCourt) application is not only based on challenging the pricing and anti-competitive nature of the deal, but that there was no scientific research to back up its justification.

In November, Information minister Jonathan Moyo launched a scathing attack on the policy, saying that government had potentially erred in effecting it.

“Sometimes when policies are made, it’s because certain powerful interests are influencing that policy and the powerful interests are not always political, sometimes they are the business ones which will be seeking an advantage over others through their connections with policy makers and so forth,” he said in response to a National University of Science and Technology student.

“Sometimes it’s because at the material time, when the policy is made, people might be pre-occupied with other things… and allow a funny policy to be made and hope to come back to rule again and then take care of the policy,” Moyo said.

“Sometimes there are genuine circumstances where the information is incomplete, and the information becomes complete as the policy is being implemented.

“Policy implementation is policy making, because you can refine now that you see what is happening.”

“On the basis of what you say, and using the reasonable person standard, it (mandatory blending) doesn’t sound right. It can only happen in a country where people don’t even make cars.”

While Mpofu has cited Mavhaire, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) and Green Fuel, he chiefly argues that the policy entrenches a monopoly and the blending ratios are not in the interest of motorists.

In the ConCourt application, the Harare man said the net effect of compulsory blending was crowding out other products and constituted a violation of the people’s fundamental right “to freedom of choice”.

His lawyers say the three respondents have failed to provide a reasonable explanation for the accelerated blending ratios and, thus, an “inescapable conclusion that the whole programme was driven by greed” arises.

“The issue of pricing has a further Constitutional dimension which on its own justifies the setting aside of the regulations,” he said, further querying why all operators were being forced to procure ethanol from one source.

“Triangle in the Lowveld is producing anhydrous ethanol which it is being allowed to export for a price of around $0,60. Surely, the licensed traders and blenders ought to be allowed to purchase from such a company or others,” Mpofu argued.



  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Please leave these guys in peace. The just want to rob everyone and everything and do not care what damage they do.

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    The minister was ill-advised by his useless team who tried to ignore public protest through the social media.It was naive on his side to honestly believe that adequate anhydous ethanol could be produced through out the year by these inexperienced youth farmers. I am happy that natural factors have served us from this man-made disaster,however I am to keep on monitoring their blending percentages in case it a plot to avoid this court case.I want to repeat that the minister should consult with Minnesota State in the USA for proper blending levels before we all suffer economically.E20 has many side effects on certain vehicles due to its combustion nature,this is why many countries stick to E10. In the past some people tried to use its improved octane value to justify its use, but more technical tests have shown that high octane value causes high temperatures in the combustion chamber.We do not have vehicles in this country designed for E20 and above.All Japanese cars can take E10 but not more than E15,unless some modifications are done within the fuel system.This is a costly exercise for a poor country like ours.

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    Mixed Race,it seems like you do not have a car coz what you sayed it seems to be false about E20.Them vehicles uses 100% non blanded.We are producing ethenol and soon start to export;and you are saying the Minister have to consult U.S.A for blanding.Already ZW imports petrol.I want you to answer my qns.Do you mean we must transport ethenol Minnesota for blending,yet we import petrol?I want you to tell mi that who were crying about E10 and how many of them you know…?Gud day evr1.A discussion takes you futher,i like it:for my first time…

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    jerefanos museba 8 years ago

    This e10-20 fuel has grounded many Japanese cars ,for instance i have a nissan liberty car that has just developed lots of problems and its now grounded barely 5 months after its purchase,mechanics told me its not compatible with the E10 fuel,please policy makers don’t rush to implemement populist policies that would eventually do more harm than good.My homeboy minister shld relieved of his portfolio and delegated a more informed one which is less tecnical and scientific.

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    easily fooled 8 years ago

    Even I the the biggest of all fools I dont need to ask about backup…..bcz I know if my beautiful country can not have grain reserves, what more ethanol back-up? It will be calling for too much.

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    kunaka 8 years ago

    It wasn’t supposed to be a must but motorist’ choice @ the pump to refill with blended or unblended petrol

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    @latord jaf- I will try to answer you even if I am failing to follow your queries.
    1-I have two cars datsun and mazda types
    2-These Japanese cars can use E10 blended fuels without modifications because its content in the blended fuel is small in quantity eg 1 litre of ethanol mixed with 9 litres of pure petrol make 10 Litres of temperature blended fuel called E10.The ethanol in the blended fuel increases the octane value thus increases the burning temperature in the combustion chamber thus increasing engine temperature.This high temperature gives one good advantage that is of producing low levels of carbon dioxide but harm to the engine.
    3-E20 has higher levels of ethanol therefore combustion chamber temperatures get higher,thus special engines are required not ordinary ones we currently us. Yes it can be used but you require specially designed engines eg in Brazil they have gone up to 100% ethanol engines.
    4-I keep on referring to Minnesota State because they are doing a lot of research on ethanol blending between 10-20% blending before making it mandatory in that state.
    5-What I am saying is that let us stick to levels not more than 15% ie E15 NOT TO DAMAGE OUR VEHICLES ENGINES.I hope I have explained it well to you.

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    ps-cancel the word temperature between 10 litres and blended

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    addition to the above answers-the ethanol in the fuel affects most rubbers and cleans fuel system because it has alcohol within itself.The higher the level of ethanol in the fuel the more the ordinary rubbers get eaten.I have already explained the temperature effect.This means special fuel line system is needed.

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    @Mxd Rce.i have 3 cars 3.2.3,mazda 3 & a sun-box both i use E10.Its nearly a year 4rm now after i bought M3.Since i ddn’t identify tht efct…

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    You right most current cars can take E10 without problems but if you go higher eg ,E15, E20…..E100,then you require specially designed engines.Your current cars will take E 10 easily but only fuel rubbers will be affected after a long time.I hope I have explained in easy terms not going too technical.