Restrictions on the sale of petrol were recently lifted in South Africa, indicating that the government was satisfied its future supplies would meet demands.
Restrictions on the sale of petrol were recently lifted in South Africa, indicating that the government was satisfied its future supplies would meet demands. One reason for this might be the government's subsequent announcement that it was studying the possibility of using maize as a substitute for petrol.
SYNOPSIS: Since the first big oil crisis South Africa had maintained restrictions on the sale of petrol from midday on Fridays through till Monday mornings. Like most countries in the West it feels its dependence on Arab oil-producing countries and the restrictions were part of its efforts to stay as independent as possible.
But the lifting of these restrictions, a great relief to the many South Africans who enjoy long weekend drives to the great outdoors, indicates that the Government is confident of its future security in fuel. Possibly because it has prospect of two alternative fuel supplies up its sleeve.
This is one of them....a plant that produces petrol from coal.
The South African government has been investing a lot of money in building up domestic production of petrol extracted from coal. Huge areas of the country are sitting on rich coal deposits, which lie just below the surface. This plant at Sasolburg in the Orange Free State produces petrol which is apparently no different from conventional fuel, and similarly priced. This has been going for 20 years now....so it is not so new.
But the idea of using maize or mealie as the South Africans call it, as a partial petrol substitute is new. The country's finance Minister, Dwen Horwood, recently told mealie producers that petrol could be mixed with 25 per cent ethanol without harmful effects - and mealies are South Africans largest potential source of ethanol. He Said present costs of the process were high, but research being carried out would establish its potential viability.