By Petronella Sibeene
Namibia is working towards relieving motorists from the heavy burden of high fuel prices.
Yesterday, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, told New Era that the Government is pursuing negotiations with Congo following the recent invitation by that country’s President Denis Sassou-N’guesso.
Sassou-N’guesso invited Namibia to join efforts with Congo and expand the oil refinery in that country’s second capital, Pointe Noire.
According to Nghimtina, he is likely to visit Congo before the end of August to see how best Namibia can be part of that venture and to what extent the country can benefit.
“Christmas comes once a year and if someone comes and offers you something you do not have, you receive it with both hands without wasting time,” said the Minister.
He said he intended to visit Venezuela next month to negotiate with that country on the supply of crude oil to Namibia.
He said it would be much easier for Namibia to search for another country that can refine the oil than not having anything at all.
“All these are efforts to relieve the country of the fuel burden. We are really feeling the pinch,” he said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is expected in the country early next month. It is hoped that crude oil supply to Namibia will form part of the main agenda.
“We are interested in oil in Venezuela and we will start negotiations as soon as possible if the matter is welcomed,” he said.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Mines and Energy announced that fuel price would remain unchanged across the country during August despite a sharp decline in the international market.
Nghimtina said in a statement that despite the favourable average exchange rate coupled with the sharp decline in crude oil prices from over US$80 to below US$75 per barrel, oil prices continue to float between US$75 and US$71 a barrel.
Further, the average rand/US dollar exchange rate appreciated slightly as the US dollar depreciated against the rand during June and July.
The situation, Nghimtina said, has contributed to the import parity being positively affected as a result slight over-recoveries have been experienced in the local market. The Minister warned that the softening in international crude oil prices could be short-lived.
“The international crude oil prices are expected to increase modestly over the next few months. This is due to a combination of volatile international crude oil prices, strong demand for diesel and low petrol products inventory,” he said. He added that despite the over-recovery in the local market, the pump price will remain unchanged.
“Fuel prices countrywide will remain as announced on 23 July 2007,” the Minister said.
Last month pump price reached the N$7 mark per a litre. At Walvis Bay the pump price for Octane Lead Replacement Petrol rose to N$6,98 per litre while Octane Unleaded Petrol cost N$6,91.a litre of diesel is N$6,70.
In Windhoek, Octane Lead Replacement Petrol costs N$7,07 per litre while Octane Unleaded Petrol sells for N$7,09 a litre and diesel costs N$6,89. The increase in petroleum products is driven mainly by strong demand growth globally.
Namibia feels the pinch even more considering that the country does not produce oil and does not have oil reserves.