Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was grilled in Parliament on Wednesday about the state of Eskom.
Eskom is currently experiencing a diesel crisis, with the power utility’s tanks at its open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) having run out.
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The power utility also revealed on Sunday that it had run out of cash to buy diesel and does not plan to order any more until 1 April 2023.
Gordhan said government was looking at solutions to Eskom’s diesel challenges following discussions with Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana and National Treasury.
“We have taken steps to find funding. Firstly, as a matter of urgency, the Minister of Finance and myself talked on Sunday evening about where money could be found. Secondly, there was a meeting between my delegation and the Minister of Finance’s delegation [where we talked] about the challenges Eskom faced,” the minister said.
“A number of options were identified [and] those options are currently being evaluated by the Treasury team. We expect a response soon.”
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He said Eskom, which has spent R11.2 billion on diesel since April, has been supplied with liquid fuel in the short term.
“The [Department of Public Enterprises] has been liaising between Eskom and PetroSA to find a way within the limited resources that Eskom currently has, to have immediate availability of diesel. By this morning, 50 million litres of diesel has been provided by PetroSA… some of those litres travel by pipelines and some by truck depending which OCGTs plant they are due for,” Gordhan said.
The minister added that Eskom’s board was also looking at generation solutions.
Watch the council sitting below:
‘Half a brain’
Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Ghaleb Cachalia remarked that “anyone with half a brain” could see that the crisis at Eskom “has been long in the making”.
“[Government] has overseen year-after-year of increased load shedding, changed boards [and] set up committees and task team all to no avail. We are now, by Eskom’s own admission, in the most parlous state having spent its entire diesel budget in six months,” Cachalia said.
READ MORE: ‘Work is underway to fix Eskom’: Presidency says prospects of more load shedding ‘deeply disheartening’
But Gordhan hit back at the DA MP saying: “Anybody with a quarter of a brain will realise by now that the facts have been put to the nation in a very transparent way, that Eskom is in a parlous state, that state capture did do immense damage, that we do have a shortage of electricity to the extent of 4 000MW [megawatts], and until we provide that source of MW through renewables and possibly through other mechanisms provided for in the IRP [Integrated Resource Plan]. We are going to continue to be in difficulty as a nation and our plan is in the next 18 months or so, we must get out of this crisis.”
The minister further pointed out the energy response plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa four months ago was already underway, but should be given time.
Gordhan told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations earlier in the day that the country would be kept up to date about Eskom’s diesel requirements and the funding needed.
South Africa is currently under stage 4 load shedding which will remain in place until further notice.
The country has experienced more than 160 days load shedding as of 23 November, with prolonged periods of blackouts being anticipated in the future.
Some parties have called for Eskom CEO André de Ruyter and COO Jan Oberholzer to be fired with immediate effect amid the intense blackouts.
NOW READ: ‘2022 most intensive load shedding year to date’ – CSIR