Egypt officials attribute fuel shortage to hoarding, smuggling

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Jun 2013

Long queues outside nation's gas stations are due primarily to illegal smuggling activities, Tuesday report by presidency asserts

Fuel shortage
Vehicles queue at a petrol station in Greater Cairo (Photo: Reuters).

Egypt is not suffering a petrol shortage and the long queues outside gas stations are mainly attributable to false rumours that the government plans to halt the supply of octane products, Egypt's petroleum minister said Tuesday.

"Egyptians' worries have pushed them to hoard petrol products," Sherif Haddara said at a Tuesday press conference attended by the ministers of supply, electricity and local development.

Last week, Turkish news agency Anadolu quoted Haddara as saying that Egypt's strategic reserves of three vital fuel products would run out by the end of this month.

Haddara said Tuesday that long queues of motorists at the nation's gas stations would be over "within days."

The petroleum ministry provides 1,520 tonnes of Octane 80 per day to the nation's gas stations, while national consumption stands at 1,370 tonnes daily.

The petrol minister added that the daily supply of Octane 90 and 92 currently stands at 2,565 tonnes.

Haddara also attributed motorists' queues to a new smart-card system, recently implemented in hopes of reducing energy subsidies, at most gas stations.

For his part, Supply Minister Bassem Ouda has said that some gas stations were refusing to sell octane to the public, going on to threaten violators with severe penalties.

In a related development, the presidency issued a report on Tuesday citing reasons for the recent fuel shortage, in which it blamed the shortfall on illegal smuggling activities.

The report put the amount of fuel smuggled since Egypt's 2011 uprising at an estimated 350.5 million litres of diesel oil and 52.1 million litres of petrol.

The presidency also attributed the lack of fuel to ongoing foreign currency shortages, noting that the state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation’s current debts stood at an estimated $5.4 billion. 

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