Transnet said on Wednesday that 26 fuel theft incidents along its inland fuel pipelines from April had resulted in more than 2 million litres of petroleum products being stolen.
Tampering with and damage to the pipelines as a result of theft had been cited as one of the reasons for the diesel shortage in Gauteng and other inland areas.
The network of 3 800km of high-pressure pipelines traverses five provinces and supplies about 250 million litres a week of refined petroleum products to inland markets, which accounts for 65 percent of the total demand.
In addition to increased security measures along the pipeline, Transnet was working with the Hawks, National Crime Intelligence and SA Police Service to reduce the thefts, and a number of arrests and impounding of vehicles and tankers had already taken place, Transnet said.
The SA Petroleum Industries Association, which represents the major oil refinery companies, said last week that diesel and petrol stock availability was improving with the lowering of lockdown levels, product deliveries at the port of Durban and pipeline deliveries having resumed.
These products were expected to reach the inland markets within seven to 14 days, which was the lead time from Durban to Gauteng by pipeline.
During this time, supply was expected to stabilise across the country as more refineries were online and producing fuel.
At the end of May, about 30 percent of the country’s refining capacity was shut down due to the drop in demand, as there were fewer vehicles on the roads through the Covid-19 lockdown.
Sasol and Total SA shut the Natref refinery in April after the government restricted economic activity.