The flip-flopping when it comes to policies in Zimbabwe is on another level. Recently banks were banned from providing lending services; an unprecedented directive. Barely before even 2 weeks was up, the ban was lifted leaving many Zimbabweans concerned about the tossing and turning. In 2008, ethanol blending of petrol came onto the scene. This was due to the commissioning of the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant. Then in 2011, fuel blending was made a mandatory thing in Zimbabwe. Come January 2022, the petrol blending was scrapped. End April 2022, petrol blending was reintroduced at 10 percent. Now we are in May 2022, and it has been indicated starting June the petrol blending ratio shall be increased to 20 percent.
What Is The Logic Behind All This?
It makes one wonder why at one point blending was scrapped. Then after a couple of months, the blending is brought back. To better understand why here is what Zhemu Soda, the Minister of Energy and Power Development had to say:
‘This blending is done for a variety of reasons and this is something that we are achieving. By using a locally produced product we are averting the dependence on foreign currency to import all the fuel requirements that we have for the country. Ethanol is cheaper than unleaded petrol which we are procuring from outside the country.
Remember in April when ethanol blending was reintroduced at 10 percent? The energy ministry said that it led to the price of petrol going down by US$0.04. Increasing the blending ratio to 20 percent is aimed at further reducing the price of petrol. They have indicated that it will reduce the price by another US$0.07. That is the logic behind the reintroduction and increase of the ethanol blending of petrol.
Ethanol Blending – Good Or Bad?
For those who might not know, E10 or E20 denotes the amount of ethanol blended or mixed with petrol. E10 means there is 10 percent ethanol and 90 petrol; E20 means 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent petrol, and so on. The most commonly used blends globally are E10, E20, E50, and E85. The ‘E’ simply stands for ethanol. Is ethanol blending good or bad? Well, for starters, it is good when you consider the financial benefits. That reduction in petrol prices is a valid argument for ethanol blending. Then there is the benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
However, there have always been concerns from vehicle owners about petrol blends. The 3 major complaints are:
- Reduced Engine Efficiency
- Vehicle Damage
- Reduced Range Or Mileage
Experts say that E10 or E20 is reasonable and does come with benefits. They even cite that it makes for increased fuel efficiency and that plays favourably to the health of the vehicle engine. Actually, E20 is more or less stretching it as the downsides begin to set in. That is why the most recommended blending ratio should be 10 percent. Anything above that has been found to significantly contribute to vehicle engine damage over time.
This is of critical importance when you consider that most Zimbabweans have imported vehicles. Nissan, for example, is on record saying that petrol blends above 10 percent are detrimental to the engines of cars they make. You then realize that a sizeable portion of vehicles in Zimbabwe are subject to this. More so when you factor in that most imported vehicles were not running on blended petrol prior to being shipped here.
There is another dynamic on whether or not the blending ratios are true as indicated. It can be labelled E10 or E20 yet it is way beyond that say, E50 for example. Some motorists seem to think this is being done especially noting the compromised fuel efficiency they observe. Sadly there is no open and shut method for just anyone to ascertain the validity of the said blending ratios.
The ideal framework would be to have options. The fact that petrol blending is mandatory arm twists motorists to use it. Moving ahead I think it will be interesting to see what happens. Blending is being insisted on due to the rationale of reduced fuel prices. Will the prices remain down or we will still see increases and some other bases will be cited? Kindly share your comment your thoughts below.