National Oil Company of Malawi says Mozambique attacks ‘wakeup call’

National Oil Company of Malawi Limited (NOCMA) has said recent spate of attacks of fuel tankers in Mozambique is a wakeup call for Malawi to take the strategic fuel reserves project serious.

Aerial view of Blantyre Depot at Matindi
Aerial view of Blantyre Depot at Matindi

In an interview with Mana, NOCMA Communications Officer Telephorus Chigwenembe said Malawi would have no reason to worry about even when there are challenges like those being experienced in Mozambique if the fuel reserves were fully operational.

He described the project as a national asset whose existence and operations should be supported by all players at all levels in the country saying energy is the driver of an economy which needs to be available all the time.

“The project aims at cushioning the country against logistical challenges arising from such factors as route disruptions and others as Strategic Fuel Reserves are meant to provide the country with a 60-day fuel cover as opposed to the present scenario where as a country we only have about 15 days of fuel cover.

“The Strategic Fuel Reserves, therefore, give the country security of fuel supply which ultimately ensures that economic activities continue to run for at least two months,” said Chigwenembe.

For the past two weeks, attacks on fuel tankers carrying petrol from Beira to Malawi have been reported in the media forcing stakeholders in the petroleum industry to consider exploring alternative routes for importing fuel.

It is for this reason that Chigwenembe said NOCMA is in the process of assisting government in finalizing the project.

“As a government company, we are assisting in finalising the Strategic Fuel Reserves project to make the facilities operational and service the country’s fuel needs as you know the project was embarked on to ensure security and stability of fuel supplies.

“We want to ensure that the Strategic Fuel Reserves are operational as soon as possible because with these facilities the country will have enough fuel to use for two months before running dry, as opposed to the current situation,” he said.

Malawi relies on the Beira route to bring in 65 percent of the country’s fuel needs according to Chigwenembe.

He expressed worry that if the recent security incidents in Mozambique are prolonged and Malawi fails to bring in fuel via the Beira-Malawi route, the country’s fuel stocks will drop and Malawi will only rely on fuel from Nacala and Dar es Salaam, which when combined, accounts for just 35 percent of the country’s requirements.

Chigwenembe also said the country may consider re-looking at the 24 million litre fuel reserve facilities that government built in Tanzania in the 1990’s that are currently not operational as an alternative for fuel storage.

“We may need to re-consider the Nacala corridor and lift fuel using rail which already exists to complement current initiatives and also an alternative route. There is need for long term planning for sustainable means of accessing the ports to lift our fuel,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Lilongwe depot fuel reserve tanks which has a 25 million litre storage capacity is expected to be fully operational by July this year and NOCMA is also working to ensure that Blantyre and Mzuzu depots, with 25 and 10 million litre fuel storage capacities, respectively, become fully operational by January, 2017.

Registered in 2010, NOCMA’s mandate is to manage the country’s Strategic Fuel Reserve facilities, promote competition in the oil and gas industry and to promote oil and gas exploration activities in order to ensure stability and security of supply of liquid fuel and gas products.

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