30,000 tonnes of bad fuel intercepted

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OVER 30,000 metric tonnes of imported petroleum products for local consumption this month have failed to meet the required quality standards, the ‘Daily News’ can confirm.

The consignment was imported through the Bulk Procurement System (BPS) using an oil tanker, MT Alpine Meadow. But, reached for comments yesterday, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Director General, Professor Egid Mubofu, neither confirmed nor denied the news, asking for more time before he could issue a statement.

“I’m currently in a board meeting and I cannot respond on the matter … if you have other sources of information, it’s well but I cannot make any comment,” Prof Mubofu told this newspaper in a telephone interview.

Impeccable sources on the other hand confided to the ‘Daily News’ that samples of the fuel from the oil tanker was proved inferior following the laboratory tests, which officials from the standards watchdog conducted at the Dar es Salaam port.

“The petroleum product coded QBA W 1025 failed the standard requirements for distillation, known in the petroleum industry as ASTM D 86 final boiling point; laboratory tests confirmed the anomaly,” the sources said.

Investigations by this newspaper have established that the questionable consignment was imported by Trafigura Pte Ltd, one of the three companies, which won the tender to import fuel through the BPS for November. Other companies were Sahara Group and Audax Resources.

The product importer is required under the Petroleum Act of 2015 and its regulations to ship back the fuel shipment, refund companies that had placed orders and pay penalties to the authorities.

The industry sources allayed fears of shortage of the petroleum products in the local market because there are always stand-ins consignment in case of such incidences to ensure the country has adequate supply of the powering liquid.

“The substandard oil will never be allowed in the market and instead the importer will be required to ship it back from where it was sourced; I understand as well that there is another ship which is about to deliver alternative stock to bridge the gap,” the source explained.

It is understood that the Agency (PBPA), an agency mandated to coordinate importation of petroleum products, is working round the clock with other firms that won the tender, Audax and Sahara, to deliver the required stock in the market.

The average monthly domestic market demand for petrol, diesel, JET-A1 (jet oil) and kerosene procured through the BPS at the Dar es Salaam port stands at 270,000 metric tonnes. In addition, between 25,000 and 38,000 metric tonnes of petroleum products are imported through the Tanga port for supply in the northern regions.

In the new system, products are imported on a cargo by cargo tendering system, but it is only now that GBP has won to bring in 37,975 metric tonnes of petrol and 30,031 metric tonnes of Jet A-1.

Tanzania introduced the BPS in January 2012 by establishing a database on consumption trends to get the best price on the world market and guarantee quality of imported products.

The then Petroleum Importation Co-coordinator Ltd (PICL), the current PBPA, prequalifies suppliers eligible for participation to tenders for supply of petroleum products in Tanzania mainland, annually.

PBPA consolidates all the requirements and prepares the tender document, indicating the specific quantity of diesel, petrol, Jet A1 and kerosene to be supplied by the winning bidders.

On commencement of the BPS, tenders were floated on a quarterly basis, with the winning bidder supplying the products for a three-month period.

After the second tender, the bidding period was changed to monthly to solve the problem of inaccurate forecasts of product requirements, which resulted in congestion of vessels at the port.

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