Smoke and daggers

Chevron’s immediate future, it seems, is shrouded in a cloud of mystery thicker than some of the crud it has occasionally belched into the neighbourhood over the years.

There is also something distinctly malodorous about the unseemly scramble by the the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) to make a grab for the 75 percent stake in the oil giant’s assets, including the refinery and hundreds of Caltex service stations.

Before anyone could say “Please, no more parastatals”, heads, specifically those of SFF chairman Riaz Jawoodien and acting CEO Sibusiso Gamede, rolled and the Department of Energy said the bid had been an unauthorised one and it would investigate.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the folks who are supposed to be looking after our strategic oil stocks.

Remember the SFF made news earlier this year when it was revealed it had secretly sold off almost all of the country’s crude oil stocks at bargain-basement prices while the oil price was tanking.

Some would argue that the ongoing fun and games at the SFF and the Department of Energy are part of deeper malaise plaguing South Africa.

Is this really what the Chevron sale is all about? After all, their decision to essentially pull the plug on their South African operations is not exactly a vote of confidence in the country’s future.

Whatever its reasons, Chevron owes the Blaauwberg community, its neighbours, more than a four-line statement about what its future plans are.