The fuel industry in South Africa is a “closed” industry and it’s advisable to have contacts, or have worked in the industry, either for a fuel supplier or transport company before starting out on your own.
Transporting fuel isn’t as simple as it seems
Tanker transportation of petrol and diesel is a job which requires the application of specialised skills, so it’s important to have good knowledge regarding the operation of equipment and the regulations that apply.
“Many fuel companies, such as Sasol and Chevron have their own fleet of tankers which they use to transport fuel while others outsource,” explains Anton Moldon, Environmental advisor, South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA).
“The entire process is very strictly controlled, even driver training is generally undertaken by the fuel companies,” says Moldon.
The regulations are long, complex and apply to not just to the driver and the vehicle but also to safety.
Drivers of vehicles transporting dangerous goods such as diesel and petrol require a category D professional driving permit. The minimum age for new drivers transporting dangerous goods is 25 years to ensure that only experienced drivers are transporting this flammable product.
Drivers of dangerous goods vehicles above 3 500 kg GVM are required to undergo training by a body approved by the National Department of Transport in order to obtain the certificate needed to qualify for a “D” category.
- The driver has to be familiar with the route to be taken
- The driver must carefully check the condition of the vehicle
- All necessary documents must be kept in the vehicle.
- Warning signs and warning devices to be displayed or stored in the vehicle,
- Be sure that the vehicle has the correct type and number of fire extinguishers fitted to the vehicle
- The vehicle must contain protective clothing
Learn the rules
The best way to understand the regulations that apply to the vehicle and to safety issues is to contact the SABS and buy the “Dangerous Goods Digest, The Orange Book of Southern Africa”.
This loose-leaf system is all you’ll need to fully understand and comply with the Dangerous Goods Regulations and the various relevant SANS (SABS) Standards which you have to comply with in order to transport fuel. This can be ordered online.
All the Standard specifications and codes of practice:
- SABS 1398 “Road tank vehicles for petroleum-based flammable liquids”
- SABS 1518 “Transportation of dangerous goods – design requirements for road tankers”
- SABS 0228 “The identification and classification of dangerous substances and goods”
- SABS 0229 “Packaging of dangerous goods for road and rail transportation in South Africa”
- SABS 0230 “Transportation of dangerous goods – Inspection requirements for road vehicles”
- SABS 0231 “Transportation of dangerous goods – Operational requirements for road vehicles”
- SABS 0232-1 “Transportation of dangerous goods – Emergency information systems”, Part 1: “Emergency information system for road transportation”
- SABS 0232-3 “Transportation of dangerous goods – Emergency information systems”, Part 3: “Emergency action codes”
- SABS 0233 “Intermediate bulk containers for dangerous substances, all apply and are contained in the Dangerous Goods Digest.
What is more profitable to transport, petrol or diesel?
According to Marco Swanepoel of MS-SM Transport & Petroleum, it is more profitable to transport diesel as most of the petrol contracts are taken up. Petrol contracts are signed for a period of 12 – 60 months.
“In this industry “one hand washes the other” and anyone considering starting a business transporting petroleum products should come into the business with experience of working in it in order to have established contacts.
It is a very hard business to get established in. The lack of stability in the petrol and diesel price doesn’t make things any easier,” Swanepoel explains.
The national petroleum production system in South Africa
The intake stations for imported crude oil and diesel arrives at the two Durban refineries – the crude refinery at Coalbrook (Natref) and the Sasol 2 and Sasol 3 Plants at Secunda.
Transnet Pipelines’ network transports 100% of South Africa’s bulk petroleum products and handles an annual average throughput of 16 billion litres of liquid fuel. The liquid products include crude oil as well as diesel, leaded and unleaded petrol and aviation turbine fuels.
The liquid fuels network runs through the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, North West and Mpumalanga.
Transnet Pipelines’ customers are all South Africa’s major fuel companies namely; BP, Caltex, Engen, Exel, Sasol Oil, Sasol Gas, Tepco, Shell and Total.
The government fixes the petrol price by zones to recognise the differences in costs associated with the transportation of petrol between various geographic areas, the country is divided into 50-plus pricing zones.
The transport sector is responsible for 74% of South Africa’s petroleum consumption and approximately 60% of imported crude oil is used for national petroleum production.