Mauritius could face an oil crisis in the coming weeks as Iran threatens to end exports to India. Mangalore refinery, which supplies all of Mauritius’ petroleum needs, is dependent on Iran for 60% of its crude oil. The problem is that US led sanctions against Iran have made it difficult for India to pay Iran for its oil and the outstanding bill is now $5 Billion. Iran is now threatening to end exports on the 1st of August.
The government of Mauritius has been aware of this problem since January. At the time the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. S. Soodhun assured the country that there were sufficient supplies en route to last for several months. The very same day he announced his desire to build an oil refinery on the island. Meanwhile the STC wants to increase the petroleum storage facilities at Port Louis apparently to avoid supply problems caused by Somali pirates.
The required investments are huge. Even the IMF is warning that oil will become an increasingly scarce and hence expensive commodity. Their advice is to back sustainable alternative sources of energy. Mauritius’ agricultural sector has great potential to produce biofuels. To achieve energy security and protect our economy surely we should look to our own resources?