PRETORIA-- The South African government has begun the consultation process with regards to the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and hopes to conclude the review by mid-August this year, says Energy Minister Jeff Radebe.

We have embarked on the consultation process of the IRP which will indicate the energy mix that we need for the next few years, Radebe said at a media breakfast session at the department's Independent Power Producer (IPP) office hereThursday.

In December last year, the Cabinet announced the approval of the reviewed plan to determines the country's long-term electricity demand.

In terms of timeline I intend to go to Cabinet by mid-August 2018 which means that the technical report which is virtually ready will start the process within government but also a public process that will include consultation with Nedlac (the National Economic Development and Labour Council), said Radebe.

He also disclosed that South Africa intends to build a new oil refinery as part of efforts to ensure the country's energy supply. It's our intention as well to ensure that we build a refinery. We cannot just sit by and observe processes going on in the world, and we need to do something as well for our own energy security of supply, said Radebe.

The Department of Energy is intent on developing a new oil refinery implementation framework that will assist the country to start looking at having its own oil refinery, he said.

In the 2017 Budget vote for the department, the government said South Africa is ready for a new refinery investment.

Regarding the recent decision by the United States to reinstate sanctions on Iran which would have an impact on crude oil supply from that country, DoE Deputy Director-General Tseliso Maqubela said South Africa currently was not importing crude oil import from that country.

Currently there are no crude oil imports that come from Iran. In as far as the immediate impact of the sanctions being imposed by the US, the impact is only going to be felt on the price of crude oil. There are indications that it will go up. But in as far as supply of crude oil to South Africa, there's no immediate impact, said Maqubela.

He said the country is not meeting the demand for petroleum products and is currently importing more than a quarter of its petroleum products. It's about the growth of demand which outstrips what the refineries can supply in South Africa. The economy has grown and so has demand for petroleum products, said Maqubela.

South Africa has no crude oil reserves of its own and about 60 per cent of its crude oil requirements are met by imports from the Middle East and Africa. Crude oil is refined at South Africa's four crude oil refineries.

The country imports crude oil mainly from three countries -- Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Angola.

We've reached a stage in South Africa where we import more than a quarter of our petroleum products requirement, hence the need to look into the refinery framework, said Maqubela, adding that geopolitical developments in the Middle East will cost consumers at the pumps going into the future.

Developments particularly in the middle East are not going to bring good news for our petroleum products prices, he said.

Thursday's media engagement session was held at a time when the department marks Energy Month. The month is observed every year in May where the DoE makes citizens aware of issues relating to energy efficiency.