JOHANNESBURG - Energy Minister Jeff Radebe yesterday said he intended to take the revised Integrated
Resource Plan (IRP) to the cabinet in mid-August, following additional consultation on the long-awaited document.
Radebe said the cabinet had resolved that the IRP document - which determines South Africa’s long-term electricity demand and details how the demand should be met in terms of generating capacity, type, timing and cost - should be a subject of “proper consultation” before its finalisation.
He said there would be further consultations with various stakeholders, including within the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
This is in stark contrast to his predecessor David Mahlobo’s apparent rush to publish the document. Mahlobo told an energy conference in December last year that the department was ready to publish the document. Radebe replaced Mahlobo in February.
“I wish to reiterate that following the cabinet decision of December 2017, the department is steadily working towards concluding the review of the IRP by no later than mid-August.
"Finalisation of this critical policy document and related Integrated Energy Plan is key towards ensuring policy certainty in the sector,” said Radebe.
He said the consultation on the IRP would provide guidance on the country’s energy mix over the next few years. He was non-committal about the fate of the nuclear build programme.
Radebe reiterated the government’s intention to build an oil refinery to mitigate the risk of over-reliance on imported petroleum products.
Demand for petroleum products outstripped current supply, according to the department’s deputy director-general for petroleum and petroleum regulation, Tseliso Maqubela.
Radebe told the Japan-South Africa Public Private Economic Forum in Johannesburg earlier this month that South Africa could not mothball existing refineries as the country was already importing at least 20percent of its demand for refined petroleum products.
“Unlike its other trading partners, South Africa is not in close proximity to major global refining centres,” he said.
Radebe said new crude oil refineries and the upgrade of the current refineries were feasible options.
Maqubela said the National Development Plan made provision for new refineries.
Like most of his predecessors, Radebe yesterday expressed displeasure with the pace of transformation in the liquid fuels sector.
He said historically disadvantaged South Africans were on the periphery of the petroleum sector. “We need to move with speed,” he said.
He said the government should use licensing in the petroleum sector to fast-track transformation “so that our people should also be at the main table”.
Maqubela said the department was finalising an audit into ownership in the fuel retail sector.