Zambia's Indeni oil refinery resumes production

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LUSAKA, Oct 15 (Reuters) Zambia's Indeni Oil Refinery has resumed production, managing director Gerald Gueglio said on Monday, after a prolonged shutdown which sparked fuel shortages as suppliers gave copper mines priority.

Last week Zambia started rationing fuel following a shortage caused by the closure of its sole oil refinery.

Indeni was shut on Sept. 1 but re-started preliminary production on Sunday with normal operations due to be resumed on Monday, officials said, following the pumping of crude oil from Dar-Es-Salaam by another state-owned firm, Tazama Pipeline.

''We have started pumping crude oil and even the refinery has started (preliminary) production. We pump an average of 2,000 tonnes of crude oil to Indeni per day,'' Tazama's managing director Largeman Muzelenga told Reuters. Tazama is set to supply Indeni with 60,000 tonnes of crude.

Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Buleti Nsemukila said last week that Tazama could not begin to pump the 60,000 tonnes crude oil imports following a misunderstanding with a banker over a million letter of credit, but the issue had been resolved.

A senior ministry of energy official said on Monday that Zambia was still importing refined fuel from South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania to cushion the shortages following the closure of Indeni.

''The imports of fuel will continue until Indeni stabilizes its operations,'' the official said.

Nsemukila said last week that the fuel shortage had not affected the copper and cobalt mines, Zambia's main economic lifeblood, because oil marketing firms were giving mines preference for fuel deliveries.

Last week, a few service stations in the capital Lusaka were offering only 10 litres of fuel worth about per vehicle while others completely ran out of petrol as motorists parked their cars and opted to go to work by public transport.

Nsemukila said the shortage had partly been caused by deliveries of fuel to the copper mines.

REUTERS KR HS1750

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