Energy Minister Dipuo Peters. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - Government will not be held to ransom by companies in the fuel sector that do not comply with the Liquid Fuels Charter, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Thursday.

“We are not going to be held to emotional, political, as well as economical blackmail,” she told reporters in Midrand.

“This is the law and we need to make sure that we comply (with) and respect the laws of this country.”

The charter was drawn up in 2000 and called for 25 percent black ownership across the value chain within 10 years.

According to the findings of an audit compliance with the charter was 48 percent.

“On ownership, the finding concludes that the average effective narrow-based black shareholding is 18.91 percent, instead of the 25 percent.

“Out of this 18.91 percent, representation for black women stands at a meagre 6.72 percent, while only one oil company, Total South Africa, has fully complied with the obligation for ownership by black shareholders.”

In 2010, the energy department called for amendments to the liquid fuels charter and the Petroleum Products Act to give black players in the retail fuel industry access to the fuel infrastructure.

Peters said the poor representation of women in all strategic areas listed in the charter was of greater concern when compared to the expectations of equity norms.

Those in the industry needed to work together to correct that which was wrong.

Peters stressed her dissatisfaction with the audit's outcome.

“There is no way that you can say that you empower people and at the end you say the people are worse off than they were before we started to empower them. It means we are actually creating a platform for impoverishment as opposed to empowering.”

She urged the industry to talk about BEE issues with government so they could be addressed.

“If you keep quiet and stay in your corner we will never know.”

The energy department would study the findings and contact different role players to plan the way forward and address problems.

The department's deputy director general Tseliso Maqubela said it was important for companies to comply with BEE laws.

“One of the implications will be to curtail the capacity of those who continue to violate the law; their capacity to import products,” he said.

“We are going to create a unit that will specifically deal with compliance. They will ensure that there is compliance on a daily basis, not only with the charter, but with all the other requirements of the law.”

Peters said the report showed in the main some achievement in the partial ownership of assets by investors not actively involved in key operations within the sector.

“These are the people who don't want the oil industry to grease their hands but they want the money of the oil company to grease their hands.”

In the 10 years under review, only two oil companies procured crude oil from previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

The audit findings were also presented to Cabinet.

Peters said overall reaction to the report was positive, with a recommendation that it be referred to the economic cluster for further review regarding policy development.

The SA Petroleum Industry Association said it would speak to the department after reviewing the findings. - Sapa