After showing growth in the third quarter of 5,4 per cent, the South African petroleum market declined again in the fourth quarter of 2002.

After showing growth in the third quarter of 5,4 per cent, the South African petroleum market declined again in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Major petroleum product sales in South Africa decreased by 0,9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2002, compared with the fourth quarter of 2001, according to the South African Petroleum Industry Association.

This compares with an increase in sales of 4,7 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2001 over the fourth quarter of 2000. For the year as a whole sales were 1,6 per cent above those for the year 2001. Sales in the year 2001 were 0,3 per cent higher than in 2000.

Reflecting the lack of growth in the petroleum market in recent years, sales in 2002 (21 267 million litres) were only 0,2 per cent above 1999 sales (21 217 million litres).

Petrol sales, which now account for just under half of total sales, declined by 2,0 per cent in the quarter. Sales of diesel, an important agricultural, commercial and industrial fuel, increased by 1,9 per cent. Jet fuel sales grew by 1,6 per cent.

Sales of illuminating paraffin, an important domestic fuel for economically disadvantaged communities, declined by 11,8 per cent. A structural decrease in the sales of paraffin can be expected in the light of the increase in electrification.