South Africa consumed approximately 11.2 billion litres of petrol and 11.9 billion litres of diesel during 2013, showing a 4.8% decrease in petrol and a 5.6% decrease in diesel from the previous year. During 2013 there was a 2.1% decrease in petrol consumption and a 0.3% increase in diesel consumption from 2012.
Government regulates the retail price of petrol. The petrol price in South Africa is linked to international refined petrol prices in certain markets quoted in United States (US) dollars. This means that the domestic price of petrol is influenced by supply and demand for petroleum products in international markets.
South Africa has very limited oil reserves and about 95% of its crude oil requirements are met by imports from the Middle East and Africa (Source: South African Revenue Service). There are six refineries in the country; four of the refineries are located at the coast and two are situated inland.
Source: SAPIA Annual Report, 2013
Petroleum products are moved from refineries by pipelines, rail, sea and road to approximately 200 depots and 4 600 service stations.
Wholesalers in South Africa consist of the seven major oil companies as well as a large number of independent non-refining wholesalers. Approximately 600 independent wholesalers have been licensed by the Department of Energy. Wholesalers operate storage terminals and distribution facilities throughout the country.
There are approximately 4 600 service stations (forecourts, company owned and dealer owned) in South Africa. The petroleum industry was licensed for the first time in 2005, in terms of the Petroleum Products Amendment Act, 2003. Government limits the number of licences allocated. Manufacturers and wholesalers are prohibited from holding a retail licence except for training purposes. SAPIA members are therefore restricted to a limited number of retail licences.
SAPIA members do have the option to franchise a retail service station to an independent dealer and directly supply it with petroleum products. There are also retail service stations that are independently operated and unbranded.