The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana
The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen in Norco, Louisiana. REUTERS

South Africa's Energy Minister Dipuo Peters wants an audit of the country's oil refineries to establish their reliability in the face of increasing unplanned refinery shutdowns, the ministry said on Thursday.

Africa's biggest economy has recently been hit by shortages of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and bitumen due to planned and unplanned shutdowns at four of the country's six refineries.

(The minister) requires that an audit of the existing refineries be conducted to establish their reliability, availability and capacities, the ministry said in a statement.

LPG is used in manufacturing processes, as fuel and by households, while bitumen is used in road construction.

South Africa's domestic supply of liquid fuels from its six refineries has been outstripped by domestic demand. As a result the country is perpetually importing finished products the ministry said.