Coal corruption alive and well in Eskom, says outgoing CEO De Ruyter

CORRUPTION was “causing havoc” in Eskom’s coal supply chain and was accelerating South Africa’s move away from coal-fired energy, said BusinessLive.

Citing comments by outgoing Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, BusinessLive outlined some of the techniques criminals use to steal coal.

One is to have trucks transporting specified coal destined for Eskom power stations to ‘black sites’ where the coal is replaced with lower quality material.

“This has created havoc in our coal supply chain and also at power stations. But we are doing our utmost to turn this around,” De Ruyter told BusinessLive.

“Coal corruption is very deeply embedded [in Eskom’s supply chains], and it is highly problematic. It is causing us, I believe, to accelerate the move away from coal,” he said.

One of the technology providers that Eskom appointed to help curb this type of coal theft was approached, within three months of being appointed, by a person who offered a bribe in exchange for access to override some of these controls, said BusinessLive.

De Ruyter said there was no anti-coal agenda at Eskom and the organisation was decommissioning its fleet at a slower rate than described in Government’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) which purports to rule on the country’s future energy mix.

The IRP 2019 provided for Eskom to decommission 5,400MW of electricity from coal generation by 2022, said BusinessLive.

After the decommissioning of the 1,000MW Komati plant in 2022, Eskom’s plans are to shut down three more coal-fired power stations, with a combined capacity of about 4,700MW, over the next four to five years, it said.