Government denies diesel crisis [Archives:2008/1150/Local News]

April 28 2008

Saddam Al-Ashmouri
For the Yemen Times

SANA'A, April 27 ) Yemen's capital and other main cities, including Aden, Taiz and Hadramout, are experiencing a notable shortage in diesel fuel these days, and the crisis became sharper over the past two days when crowds of citizens lined up for hours at fuel stations to get diesel.

Many citizens, who use diesel for agricultural and transportation purposes, complained that several fuel stations were closed over the past two days due to a lack of diesel supplies, while other stations faced long queues of vehicles and trucks. Owners of agricultural machinery and bakeries suffered the most, which is why security personnel were forced to patrol at fuel stations, particularly those affiliated with the Yemeni Petroleum Company, to organize citizens lining up to get diesel.

Fuel station owner Hussein Al-Beidhani confirmed that there is a notable shortage in diesel fuel, pointing out that main stations in big cities suffer large crowds of cars and trucks waiting for diesel, which is currently priced at YR 1,000 per 20 liters in some governorates, a 45 percent increase above its previous price.

In the capital city, trucks and cars which use diesel were massed at fuel stations in a terrible manner.

Many citizens fear that the current diesel crisis indicates the government's intention to cease fuel derivative subsidies. They expect the phenomenon to contribute to raising prices of basic foodstuffs, thereby worsening their living standards.

Political observers warn the government against lifting fuel subsidies due to its citizens' poor living standards, saying that citizens are suffering greatly after prices of basic commodities rose by 150 percent.

The Yemen Times tried to contact the Yemeni Petroleum Company to explain the notable diesel shortage and its soaring price, but it refused to comment on the crisis. The diesel crisis began two weeks ago in Aden governorate and then shifted to other governorates. The relevant authorities have not intervened to resolve the crisis.

The Yemeni Petroleum Company denied that there is a diesel shortage in fuel stations, while Deputy Executive Director of Aden Refinery Yousif Qelaiqel announced that two diesel consignments arrived at the refinery on Thursday to meet the growing demand for diesel in the local markets.

According to Qelaiqel, the first consignment of 55,000 metric tons of diesel is currently unloading at the refinery and the second consignment of 33,000 metric tons will unload on Friday and be subsequently distributed to the various governorates.

He added that two tankers anchored at the Mukalla and Hodeida ports unloaded 38,000 metric tons of diesel, stressing that the Aden Refinery purchases the product from international markets.

Qelaiqel disclosed that the refinery will receive other quantities of diesel estimated between 200 and 250 thousand metric tons by May, adding that the quantities will be distributed to the different Yemeni governorates.

Deputy Minister of Oil and Minerals Ahmad Abdullah Daris said the supply of fuel products is stable, indicating that diesel is available in almost all fuel stations without any increase in the product's price.

Other diesel consignments arrived at oil installations in Hodeida governorate and began supplying nearby areas as a first step before providing the other northern and eastern governorates with diesel.

The Deputy Minister of Oil and Minerals attributed the notable diesel shortage to a growing demand for the fuel in international markets, which resulted in the delayed arrival of diesel tankers to Aden port.

Daris called on all the relevant agencies, local councils in governorates and districts, as well as all Yemeni citizens, to cooperate with the Ministry of Oil and Minerals in reporting any violations that may be committed by fuel station owners, in order for the ministry to take firm procedures against them.