Mozambique snubs Zimbabwe's pipeline proposal


President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

27 September 2014, Maputo – Mozambique has snubbed Zimbabwe’s proposal to construct a second petroleum pipeline, a government official has revealed, saying the move has undermined plans to augment the existing pipeline which no longer has the capacity to adequately supply fuel into the country. The plan was to construct a second pipeline from Savanna, 50 kilometres north of Beira, Mozambique, to Zimbabwe.

The proposed pipeline would run parallel to the Feruka petroleum pipeline from the Beira fuel depot to Harare. The proposed pipeline was expected to carry about 500 million litres of fuel per month. Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Partson Mbiriri, disclosed that Zimbabwe could not take unilateral action on the pipeline project.

“Whereas this ministry (Energy and Power Development) has engaged our Mozambique counterparts on the second pipeline, we await a formal response from Mozambique,” said Mbiriri.

“Zimbabwe may not take unilateral action on this project.” Mbiriri, however, said the capacity of the existing pipeline has increased by 40 percent following the introduction of drag reducers and booster pumps. Drag reducers, which are also known as drag reducing agents or flow improvers, reduce frictional pressure during fluid flow in a pipeline.

Using drag reducers reduces turbulence inside a pipeline and therefore allows the oil to flow more efficiently using the same amount of energy or decreased pressure drop for the same flow rate of fluid in pipelines. Drag reducers allow for oil to be pumped through at lower pressures, saving energy and money.

The Feruka pipeline pumps 6,5 million litres of fuel per day from Mozambique to Zimbabwe but it has a maximum capacity of eight million litres per day. The 408 km pipeline, built in 1966, stretches from Beira in Mozambique to Harare through the Feruka Oil Refinery outside Mutare.

 The Zimbabwe government, through the National Oil Infrastructure Company, owns 21 km of the Feruka pipeline, while Mozambique, through the Companhiado De Pipeline Mozambique-Zimbabwe (CPM-Z), controls the rest. The government last year introduced a US$0,04 per litre levy on fuel importers using road transport to bring fuel into the country in an effort to force them to use the Beira-Feruka pipeline.

About 35 percent of fuel is still being transported by haulage trucks despite the lower costs of using the pipeline. Industry players said while the pipeline was a cheaper mode of transporting fuel, the industry is so segmented that it would be difficult to co-ordinate the procurement of petroleum products in bulk in order to justify the use of the pipeline.

It costs US$0,08 cents a litre to transport fuel by pipeline from Beira to Msasa in Harare while the haulage companies charge US$0,09 cents a litre over the same distance. In March this year, Energy and Power Development Minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire, during a tour of Feruka Oil Refinery, said government would initiate studies on the construction of the second pipeline.

He said: “We are already pursuing bilateral procedures with Mozambique with a view of coming up with a second pipeline.” Mavhaire said a number of investors had already put forward proposals for the construction of the second pipeline.


– Financial Gazette

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