Oberholzer: Eskom using more diesel in an attempt to ease load shedding

The utility ramped up rolling power cuts to stage four this morning until Friday after several more units broke down overnight.

FILE: Speaking to the media, Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer admitted that it was "unsustainable" to use diesel this extensively. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom on Wednesday said it was burning through nine million litres of diesel a day to avoid intensifying load shedding while it battled to repair ailing infrastructure at some of its units.

The utility ramped up rolling power cuts to stage 4 on Wednesday morning until Friday after several more units broke down overnight.

Speaking to the media, Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer admitted that it was "unsustainable" to use diesel this extensively.

He said not only was it expensive but also logistically difficult to arrange: “It’s always intended to be peaking conditions, you know, typically early in the morning and late in the afternoon.”

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Oberholzer said the team was constantly speaking to the diesel suppliers to see if they could cut costs.

“If you take when we order ships that is usually, you know, R30 million, maybe a little bit more than that. So, to burn that amount of diesel is unsustainable.”

Eskom and independent power producers have 300 megawatts of open cycle gas turbines linked to the system and Oberholzer said should the utility run out of diesel at the power stations there would be a major problem.

“It would necessitate a further 3 stages of load shedding to be implemented and if the dam levels were to be completely depleted this would require further three stages.”

Eskom said it is considering switching over to gas in future, which is less expensive.