Eskom burns R65 billion worth of diesel in 5 years

Issued by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises
25 Apr 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP.

Following the dismal failure by the Minister of Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, and the Eskom Board Chair Mteto Nyati to provide clarity on Eskom’s diesel use, evidence has since emerged that Eskom has been burning diesel at a rate and scale that dwarfs the annual budgets of NSFAS.

A reply to a DA parliamentary question by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Minister Pravin Gordhan, has revealed that Eskom spent a cumulative R65 billion on diesel over the past 5 years to fire its Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs). This equates to over R1 billion of diesel spend per month over 5 years.

The table below provides a breakdown of Eskom’s diesel spend for each of the last 5 financial years:

Financial year Amount R’ billion
2019 – 2020 5,80
2020 – 2021 5,75
2021 – 2022 8,60
2022 – 2023 21,25
2023 – 2024 23,38
Total 64,78

In the 2022/2023 financial year, diesel use almost tripled and has remained elevated ever since averaging R21 billion per year. With Eskom still relying heavily on OCGTs to augment the power supply deficit, claims by, Eskom Board Chair, Nyati that the diesel spend for the 2024/2025 financial year will show a decline seems implausible.

Burning copious amounts of diesel at such unprecedented levels is unsustainable and partly explains why consumers were hit with double digit tariff increases by NERSA. It is no coincidence that Eskom’s 31,4% tariff increase – spread over 2 years, was approved in the 2022/2023 financial year when diesel use almost tripled.

This means that consumers are essentially being asked to subsidise Eskom’s failures as the entity burns more diesel to maintain an illusion of improving power supply.

With this latest revelation, Minister Ramokgopa’s claim that Eskom has turned a corner is completely false because burning diesel can never be a permanent solution to the load-shedding crisis. OCGTs, which form part of Eskom’s ailing power plants, are only meant to be used during peak periods or when the system is constrained. However, Eskom’s supply and demand updates show that it continues to rely on OCGTs to plug power supply deficits.

If anyone is weaponising the load-shedding crisis then its Minister Ramokgopa because he is making claims of improved generation capacity which are not supported or substantiated by facts. The simple question that he should answer is: if Eskom had not made use of OCGTs during the past 30 days in which there has been no load-shedding, would Eskom have managed to keep the lights on?

Burning 3 billion litres of diesel over 5 years can never be touted as a measure of success in relation to the load-shedding crisis. If anything, it exposes the underhanded tactics by the ANC government to rely on expensive short term remedies to fool South Africans that Eskom has turned a corner and is on the mend, when in fact it is not.