Between April and December 2023, 70 petrol stations were found to be selling dodgy diesel, as indicated by the presence of illuminating paraffin in failed samples. The department has responded by issuing non-compliance notices and reporting the offenders to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for possible tax evasion. These petrol stations are located in various provinces, raising concerns about the impact on vehicles and highlighting the dangers of fuel adulteration.

By Telegram Reporter

A recent investigation conducted by the Department of Mineral Resource and Energy has revealed that 70 petrol stations nationwide are distributing substandard diesel to consumers, indicating that unscrupulous individuals are compromising quality in response to the escalating petroleum prices.

The diluted diesel fuel is purportedly tainted and combined with paraffin. When questioned about starting legal action, the department explained that it follows a particular process for dealing with non-compliance. This involves reporting service stations that do not comply with regulations to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) because adulterating diesel fuel is considered a form of tax evasion.

The department conducts investigations on fuel samples obtained from service stations across all provinces.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, disclosed an increase in the prevalence of adulterated diesel at fuel stations during a parliamentary session in 2022, although he did not provide specific details.

“Those who mix diesel with paraffin and sell it to unsuspecting customers must stop this practice. It is illegal. Service stations found with adulterated diesel will face immediate closure and prosecution,” Mantashe warned in 2022.

Mantashe issued this warning during a period of significant escalation in wholesale diesel prices, which surged by over 50% from 2021 to 2022.

News24 reports that it has obtained exclusive information indicating that 70 petrol stations were discovered to be distributing counterfeit diesel between April and December 2023.

In reply to a request for more information by News24, the department confirmed that it had detected 70 cases of diesel samples failing and had subsequently issued non-compliance notices to all of them from April 2023 to December 2023. The failed samples revealed the presence of illuminating paraffin adulteration in the diesel.

The following data presents the number of petrol stations discovered to be dispensing counterfeit diesel in all the provinces of the country:

Limpopo – 15; North West – 13; KwaZulu-Natal – 13; Mpumalanga – 9; Northern Cape – 6; Gauteng – 5; Western Cape – 4; Free State – 4 and Eastern Cape – 1

In 2022, Kevin Baart, who serves as the head of strategic projects and regulation at the South African Petroleum Industry Association, representing the primary petroleum and liquefied petroleum gas companies in the nation, stated that vehicle owners may not immediately notice the impact of adulterated diesel on their cars or trucks.

However, he advised that if diesel prices were unusually low, they should be cautious. Baart emphasised that the effects of adulterated diesel may not be detectable by smell or feel, but rather by listening to the engine’s noise, as it could potentially cause damage.

“You won’t pick it up by smell, you won’t pick it up by feel (of the fuel going into the tank), you just need to listen to the noise of the engine. Sometimes it causes damage, sometimes it doesn’t,” said Baart.

Baart mentioned that at times, owners or franchisees of service stations might agree to receive fuel deliveries from dishonest suppliers. However, in general, the oil companies made efforts to manage the issue of fuel adulteration. This was because a noticeable drop in sales at a service station, from 300,000 to 250,000 litres per month, indicated that something was amiss.

“I think the problem lies more with the smaller people who are not branded, who are doing these things.”

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