Zimbabwe relaxes fuel blending rules as fuel queues resurface

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Zimbabwe has slashed the ratio of mandatory petrol blending from 15 to five percent as the government moved to avert a fuel shortage that had already started affecting parts of the country.Energy Minister Samuel Undenge said low sugar cane throughput at Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant in eastern Zimbabwe had forced the government to order a reduction in the ethanol-petrol blending ratio with immediate effect.

The low sugar cane supply is blamed on poor rains that have been experienced across Zimbabwe this year.

“Taking into account the limited production of ethanol and the need to ensure uninterrupted deliveries of petrol to service stations countrywide, I, with immediate effect, reduce mandatory blending level from E15 to E5,” Undenge told the media.

Zimbabwe passed new rules in February 2013 forcing fuel wholesalers to blend petrol with locally-produced ethanol in order to cut the country’s fuel import bill.

Under the rules, no operator is allowed to sell unleaded petrol unless it has been blended with a minimum of 15 percent locally-produced ethanol. Ethanol is usually produced from sugar cane in Zimbabwe.

However the low supply of ethanol had during the past week resulted in long queues forming at filling stations in the second city Bulawayo.

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