Fuel reserve tanks ready for testing

National Oil Company of Malawi Limited (NOCMA) says it has started receiving fuel to be used in testing the country’s 60 million litre Strategic Fuel Reserves which government constructed in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu to provide more than two months of fuel cover.

In an interview with Mana, Communications Officer for NOCMA Telephorus Chigwenembe said the testing of the tanks follows completion of the installation of offloading meters to be used in determining quantities of fuel received at the depots adding the tests are expected to start end May.

Chigwenembe said the offloading meters were a requirement by the regulatory regime but were omitted in the initial design of the fuel storage facilities.

Currently, Malawi has only 15 days of fuel cover according to Chigwenembe, a development he described as a risk to the economy in the event of disruptions in the fuel supply chain system.

He said the Lilongwe depot located at Kanengo is scheduled to be operational by 1st July, 2016 while full operations at Blantyre and Mzuzu depots are expected to start by January, 2017.

“The tank testing exercise with fuel starts with Lilongwe depot which has a 25 million litre fuel storage capacity, before moving to Blantyre mid-June to test another 25 million litre facility. Tanks at Mzuzu depot which will hold 10 million litres of fuel will be tested in July,” he said.

Meanwhile, NOCMA is in the process of upgrading the roads to the fuel reserves for easy access to the facility.

The installation of offloading meters and other ancillary works such as the upgrading of access roads to the three depots is said to have delayed the commissioning of the depots which was due in 2015.

“The upgrading of a half kilometre road to Lilongwe depot has been completed. In Mzuzu, upgrading of a 4.1 kilometre access road to the depot at Sonda started weeks ago and will be completed in August this year.

“The upgrading of a 3.2 kilometre access road to Blantyre depot at Matindi has also started and is scheduled for completion in September this year,” said Chigwenembe.

Malawi receives her imported fuel through Beira and Nacala in Mozambique and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Registered in 2010, NOCMA’s mandate is to manage the country’s Strategic Fuel Reserve facilities, promote competition in the oil and gas industry and to promote oil and gas exploration activities in order to ensure stability and security of supply of liquid fuel and gas products.

Source: Malawi News Agency