South Africa
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LETTER: Nersa allows for more punishment of the poor

There’s a strange paradox in our government’s thinking. Geopolitically it has adopted an “anti-West” stance, most recently concerning the Ukraine war. But in energy matters it appears enslaved by “first world” norms and standards.

Take the sulphur content of diesel. SA refineries were happily producing diesel with sulphur at 50 parts per million (ppm) when new regulations decreed that this must drop to 10ppm. It being uneconomic for our small refineries to upgrade their facilities to achieve this, it was one of the reasons they have now closed, meaning most of our diesel requirements must now be imported.

Never mind that Eskom’s far higher highveld sulphur emission levels continue to be tolerated, presumably because of the current power crisis.

The National Energy Regulator of SA’s new pricing model for gas, based on current international norms rather than local costs, has allowed Sasol to increase prices by 96%. I’m told Sasol was being nice, and that the increase could have been significantly higher.

These changes collectively constitute a veritable right and left to the poor, and both could have been avoided if the government had used just a little foresight and refused to blindly follow “first world” practice. 

James Cunningham, Camps Bay

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