Government pledges 60,000 tons of diesel to alleviate fuel crisis

Published on 27 May 2014 in News
Khalid Al-Karimi (author)

Khalid Al-Karimi


SANA’A, May 25 — Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa declared Saturday that the government is planning to import 60,000 tons of diesel in a bid to overcome the diesel crisis the country has  been facing.

The fuel crisis continues to be a major cause for concern for ordinary Yemenis.

“Whatever the government does, the diesel crisis seems unsolvable as long as influential groups continue to control the diesel trade,”  Sana’a-based economist Ahmed Saeed Shamakh told the Yemen Times.

“The government will import large amounts of diesel. But it will not go to everyone equally. Simple farmers, for example, will continue struggling with this crisis. When you go to a gas station now, you see long queues of cars,” Shamakh said.

Economists say the government is not adequately supervising the distribution of petrol and diesel, which provides an opportunity to some well-connected individuals and groups to monopolize fuel in order to create black markets.

Earlier this month, the general manager of the Yemen Petroleum Company, Mansour Al-Batani, told the media that the company shut down several gas stations in the capital city whose owners were accused of attempting to hoard fuel to sell on the black market.

“Only an influential group will be able to take advantage of the imported diesel. Even if the government imports billions [of liters] of diesel, the crisis will continue as long as there is no monitoring,” Shamakh said.

As the government is keen to point out, the fuel crisis is worsened in part due to the repeated attacks by tribesmen on oil pipe lines in Marib and Shabwa as well as tribal roadblocks on Sana’a-Marib road. Tribes usually carry out such actions as a means of airing their demands and pressuring the government into—for instance— providing better jobs or releasing imprisoned relatives.

Mansour Hamoud, the owner of Mansour Al-Abdi gas station at Al-Misbahi roundabout in Hadda, agreed with Shamakh that the crisis will worsen if there is no rigorous government monitoring and regulation.

“The government can import thousands of litters of petrol and diesel, but the [hoarding] is going to continue. This is the root cause of the crisis,” he said.

For rural farmers, who are heavily reliant on diesel to operate water pumps, the crisis has come at a high cost.

Mahboob Hadi, a farmer in Hodeida governorate, expressed his frustration at the government’s handling of the fuel crisis.

“I go to the station... so that I can get a few liters of diesel. I return empty-handed. We cannot grow as many crops considering this shortage of diesel. Some plants even perish because the water is insufficient.  Also, some farmers cannot afford to buy from the black market,” said Hadi.

Heba Al-Tairy, director of the Commercial Affairs Department at the Yemen Petroleum Company, said in a recent interview with the Yemen Times that the lack of cash flow is the main reason behind the acute shortage of fuel.

She also said the Aden Oil Refinery Company produces between 50,000 and 70,000 tons of diesel per month while the rest of the country’s needs is imported from outside. The country’s monthly consumption is between 250,000-300,000 tons, according to Al-Tairy.

On Wednesday, the Yemeni Parliament warned that it would withdraw confidence from the reconciliation government if the the fuel crisis and the security vacuum continue unresolved.