The missing 368,628 tonnes oil South Africa imported from Iran

There were some raised eyebrows recently when customs figures revealed that South Africa was still importing oil (417,000 during February) from Iran in spite of sanctions against that country.

Sasol took responsibility for some 12,000 barrels per day during January. Engen South Africa, which is owned by Petronas Malaysia, did not.

Reuters reported that Engen South Africa claimed that the company had halted oil imports from Iran. When exactly this happened, is unclear. They did not want to comment. Petronas indicated that their Engen unit stopped imports in March of last year. Engen, while not contradicting the statement, also did not confirm it. The messages are mixed.

I have to say this: the numbers don’t tally up. Either somebody is telling half-truths or somebody (and I suspect it could be more than a single somebody) is not owning up! Let’s calculate:

Of the 417,000 tonnes of oil imported from Iran, how much

South Africa Iran - Oil still important.

Other than Sasol, nobody is owning up for the large amount of oil imported by South Africa from Iran.

did Sasol buy?

Sasol said they imported only 12,000 barrels per day, right? A barrel weighs 139kg, or 0.139 tonnes. February had 29 days and I assume that their ‘per day’ includes weekends, high days and holidays. So the sum would be:

Number of barrels x tonnes x days = total monthly import.

12,000 x 0.139 x 29 = 48,372 tonnes.

So WHO imported the remaining 368,628 tonnes?

That is a whole lot of oil, and it sure as heck got delivered somewhere!

  • Petronas said it was not them. Engen does not say anything. I am not sure I believe them. My suspicion is that they are looking at stopping imports, but haven’t made a final decision .
  • Sasol could be importing more than they claim but, even if they did, it would not be anywhere near the missing 368,628 tonnes!
  • Chevron I believe is innocent. They are US-owned and won’t violate US sanctions. The repercussions would be too severe.
  • There seems to be confirmation that BP is not the culprit either.
  • Shell..well now, Shell is a bit of a dark horse. They have not breathed a word. In fact, they refuse to comment. No answer is an answer too.

A lack of political will

I believe there is a lack of political will to support the US and EU sanctions against Iran. South Africa is notoriously bad at taking a stand. They usually end up dancing around issues. Think of Zimbabwe, Lybia etc. There really is no political pressure from our government on Engen, Shell, Sasol and whoeverelse. Things might change during May this year when Energy Minister Dipuo Peters is set to finally respond to the US in terms of implementing sanctions against Iran. There is a good chance she won’t. As I explained in my previous blog , South Africa and Iran are bedfellows in at least two joint ventures and have been supplying arms to Teheran in spite of the embargo on weapons – an embargo South Africa had agreed to.

In the mean time, this blogger is waiting for the March customs figures to be released. Hopefully the amount of oil imported by South Africa from Iran, will be a round zero.

Also read:

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=168894

UPDATE 1-Petronas S.Africa unit Engen ends Iran crude imports | Reuters.

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2 Responses

  1. Oh I just remember – maybe they bought it for the bottomless pitt.,?

  2. Oh no somebody drink way too much oil in South Africa!! Maybe they fill up for the total stock market collapse? No wait what about corruption or theft?

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