Weaning South Africa off Iranian crude oil could cost the country jobs, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters warned.
Briefing the media at Parliament ahead of debate on her department’s budget, she said Cabinet would pronounce “on the most South African-appropriate response” to U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran at the end of this month.
Noting that local refineries used Iranian crude, she said changing suppliers would not affect just them, but would have an “impact on the total value chain”, including distribution and retailers.
“So it’s the total value chain that we’re worried about and the number of jobs that South Africans will lose.”
More than a quarter of South Africa’s crude oil is imported from Iran.
Peters said a government task team was “looking at a range of options” with regard to the looming June 28 deadline – imposed by the U.S. – for countries to significantly reduce their imports of Iranian oil.
The energy department’s deputy director-general, Tseliso Maqubela, said South Africa was currently talking, “on a daily basis”, with the U.S., Iran and the EU on the matter.
These discussions were “cordial” and there was no “confrontational approach”.
The department was confident it would find a solution that would work for South Africa.
“There are a range of response options,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Asked what the “worst-case scenario” might be, Maqubela said this would be economic.
“The worse-case scenario is… an economic [one]. It is not a security of supply worst-case scenario. It’s [one] where companies that operate in the country are impacted economically.
“There are options that can ensure we continue to [get] supply, but I think the issue is at what cost. The worst-case scenario is the cost; the escalating cost to those companies of the alternatives,” he said.