The Portfolio Committee on Energy received a briefing from the Department of Energy on the liquid fuels sector and fuel pricing.
Chairperson of the Committee, Fikile Majola, welcomed the presentations and the fact that the Minister and the Deputy Minister availed themselves for the meeting. The Committee noted and welcomed the fuel price decrease, which took effect on 3 September.
“We have raised several times the issues of staffing stability at a senior level in the department and we are happy to hear that the position of Director-General has been advertised and that recruitment process is underway. It is an issue that we have to monitor as a committee,” said Majola.
This was after Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, had announced that the recruitment process of the Director-General had begun. Questions and comments from members of the committee focused on the investment decisions around refining capacity that the department needed to commit to, with specific reference to Petro- SA’s project Mthombo and the acquisition of Engen by the national oil company.
The subject came up after the department in its presentation alluded to shortages of refineries in the SADC region, because of ageing infrastructure of the refineries. The committee expressed concerns about the shortages of bitumen in the country. The committee questioned how the department would address the shortage of bitumen if the refining companies were unable to produce enough.
The committee requested the department to provide sustainability plans pertaining to the PetroSA refinery in Mossel Bay. The committee was of the view that the reports of the closure of the refinery fuelled fears in the community and posed a threat to the security of supply to the country.
Majola said the main issue in the energy sector was an integrated and long-term vision. “What are we going to do, to align the visions of the different departments and stakeholders? How are we going to sequence our actions in terms of the long-term vision? How do we respond to the pressing issues that we must respond to today?” he said.
He added, “There are issues of skills, funding time constraints that tomorrow we will be addressing with Eskom. Eskom is an issue that we need to respond to together with the relevant Portfolio and Select Committees. We are tasked with conducting oversight over government and state-owned companies. It is important to know what the priorities of the committee are, so that we hold the department and entities accountable, especially those that are important for the country.”