Columnists Features

ZWMA’s relevance to stakeholders in the fuel sub-sector

TO RECAPITULATE our discussion in the previous article of January 21, 2016, we established that the Zambia Weights and Measures Agency (ZWMA) is a key player in the petroleum industry.
The agency authenticates measurements of fuel stock throughout the entire fuel supply chain in the country, to ensure that buying and selling of the commodity is accurate at all times. In today’s discussion, we will explore the various stages of fuel distribution and ZWMA’s relevance at all the stages.
As you may be aware, fuel procurement in the country starts with the Government purchasing crude oil and/or refined petroleum products from the international market. This article focuses on the crude oil supply chain. The finished product route will be discussed in the subsequent issue.
Zambia uses neighbouring country Tanzania to channel the oil into the country via the TAZAMA pipeline which runs from Dar-es-Salaam to Ndola. Once the crude oil is received in Ndola, at TAZAMA Pipeline Ltd, it is important that the consignment received is counter-checked to confirm receipt of the actual volume that was procured.
For example, if the country purchased three million cubic metres of crude oil, there is need to measure the volume at the point of receipt to verify if there is irrefutably three million cubic metres of crude oil piped into the country.
To verify the volumes of oil received, TAZAMA Pipeline Ltd has a turbine meter which is used to check the volume of crude oil pumped from Tanzania into Zambia. A master meter is then used to counter-check the accuracy of the turbine meter. At this stage, ZWMA ensures that the Master Meter TAZAMA uses as its verification mechanism of stocks received is measuring accurately.
The agency therefore has a mandatory role as provided for under the Weights and Measures Act to test and verify at prescribed intervals that the Master Meter at TAZAMA measures accurately. The accuracy of the Master Meter is cardinal for stocktaking as the Government does not want to receive short deliveries of crude oil it purchases for national consumption.
Subsequently, the crude oil received in the country is sent for refining at Indeni Oil Refinery to extract various petroleum products such as kerosene, petrol, diesel and petroleum motor spirit (PMS). The refinery then pumps over the extracted products to TAZAMA Petroleum Products Ltd (TPPL), also known as Ndola Fuel Terminal.
The custody transfer of petroleum products between Indeni Oil Refinery and TPPL takes stock of volumes refined and pumped into the fuel terminal by use of custody transfer meters. These meters are equally periodically tested and verified for accuracy by ZWMA to ensure that correct refined products from Indeni are recorded.
The oil marketing companies (OMCs) uplift the said petroleum products from the fuel terminal by loading them onto road tank vehicles using bulk flow meters. Both bulk flow meters and road tank vehicles used to uplift fuel from the terminal are forms of measuring instruments that are also availed to ZWMA for verification of accuracy.
As you may be aware, OMCs buy diesel, petrol, kerosene etc. in bulk to supply service stations and commercial sites such as the mines, farms and airports. Measuring instruments of interest to ZWMA at this stage are the fuel nozzles found on fuel pump dispensers at filling stations, in the mines and other commercial users of fuel.
All the measuring instruments used by different stakeholders in the fuel sub-sector, such as the master meters, custody transfer meters, bulk flow meters and fuel nozzles, are verified for accuracy biannually in January and July of each year.
The capacity of compartments on road tank vehicles is however verified for accuracy once every year. It is important that the said instruments measure accurately at all times to promote fair trade between all buyers and sellers of the commodity at different stages.
Once ZWMA validates the accuracy of these measuring instruments, random inspections to monitor compliance are then effected. In other words, as of January this year, all the said instruments have been verified and the next time they will be due for reverification will be in July. This notwithstanding, random inspections shall be carried out between now and July to monitor compliance.
Inspections to monitor compliance on authenticated measuring instruments helps to prevent avoidable loss of revenue that may arise as a result of meters losing calibration and giving false measurements.
This is possible as these instruments can be affected by the temperature of fuel, wear and tear due to constant use of the instruments and possible tampering of instruments by unscrupulous players in the fuel sub-sector who may want to cheat unsuspecting clients of the commodity.
Lastly, it should be noted that tampering of measuring instruments or use of unverified measuring instruments by players in the fuel sub-sector is punishable by law as provided for in the Weights and Measures Act.
Dear readers, we would like to hear from you. For all your comments and clarifications do not hesitate to get in touch with us by addressing all your queries to:
The Chief Executive Officer
Zambia Weights and Measures Agency
Plot 2387 Longolongo Road
P.O. Box 30989
Tel: +260 211 222294
Fax: +260 211 222297
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The author is public relations officer at Zambia Weights and Measures Agency.

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