The South African government said it is urgently seeking funds to buy the diesel needed to power auxiliary power plants after the state electricity company said blackouts will intensify this week.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan met with Eskom board members on Sunday amid “serious concerns” about the risk of a rise in blackouts across the country in the coming months, his office said in a statement. department, which oversees the utility.
The cuts are expected to deepen this week.
The Public Enterprises Department “is urgently working with the National Treasury and Eskom to find the money to buy diesel supplies,” it said on Sunday.
The government is also “looking for savings” within Eskom’s existing funds.
South Africa has seen record power outages this year, mainly due to breakdowns at Eskom’s former coal-fired plants that form the backbone of its generating capacity. The utility has been forced to run diesel-powered turbines, designed for use during peak demand periods, to mitigate blackouts that have slowed economic growth.
The indebted and loss-making company has already spent more than R11 billion on fuel in the 10 months to October, chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said last week. The loss of cargo can worsen if the funds to buy the fuel run out, he warned.
The utility is in talks with the government, specifically the DPE, Eskom said in response to questions. The group declined to provide details about its diesel stocks.
The government of President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced measures to deal with the energy crisis, but those efforts have not strengthened security of supply, despite commitments made by officials.
Gordhan said in September that power shortages would not abate to previous levels.
Eskom has implemented more than double the outages of 2021 this year, according to the Scientific and Industrial Research Council. The current scheduled outages reach Stage 4, the equivalent of removing 4,000 megawatts from the grid, though the overall situation is erratic and subject to change, Eskom said Monday.
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