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Fuel and electricity crises were politicised: experts

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The abrupt end of the fuel crisis and frequent electricity blackouts raises question marks

The fuel and diesel crisis has ended and local quantities are sufficient to needs, Hefzy Sadek, the undersecretary of the supply directorate in the Giza district, told the Daily News Egypt on Sunday. (AFP Photo / Khaled Desouki)

The fuel and diesel crisis has ended and local quantities are sufficient to needs, Hefzy Sadek, the undersecretary of the supply directorate in the Giza district, told the Daily News Egypt on Sunday.
(AFP Photo / Khaled Desouki)

By Doaa Farid

The fuel and diesel crisis has ended and local quantities are sufficient to needs, Hefzy Sadek, the undersecretary of the supply directorate in the Giza district, told the Daily News Egypt on Sunday.

“We’ve just finished our check on the stations and no complaints were found,” he said.

Fully functioning electricity networks and the subsiding of fuel shortages, which had prevailed weeks ahead of the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi and disappeared immediately after, have raised many questions about whether the crisis was intentionally created.

Some experts have attributed this to an increase in the amount of gas pumped to electricity production plants, and bigger supplies being provided by major petroleum-producing countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

However, Sadek confirmed that the fuel quantities supplied to the market are “the same” as a few weeks ago before the protests of June 30. “Prior to these protests, people were worried as the media played a big role in magnifying the crisis which drove them to store large quantities in order to avoid the crisis. But now, people are reassured,” he said.

Aktham Abu El-Ela, the first undersecretary of the Ministry of Electricity and the ministry’s spokesman pledged on Sunday that stability in electricity grids will continue throughout Ramadan, according to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram. He still, however, emphasised the importance of consumers’ rationalising their consumption, especially at peak times.

Abu El-Ela also added that recent massive protests actually had a positive impact on the national electrical grid, as it meant there was a huge drop on the demand and pressure, which saved energy.

He also added that the network had not mentioned mass electricity outages since 30 June.

Magdy Tolba, an economic expert, said the crisis may have resolved due to a possible end of delays in liquefied natural gas shipments, which the former minister of electricity had previously announced. He also said that the government may have reduced street lighting, which amounts to 15% of the lighting load in Egypt, instead of cutting it from electricity grids feeding residential areas.

Tolba also said that the “psychological state” of people might have also contributed in amplifying the crisis.

Meanwhile, Gamal Seyam, an advisor to the Economic Studies Centre at Cairo University told the Daily News Egypt that he blamed the fuel crisis on distributors. He argued that there was an “undeclared civil disobedience” in the electricity and fuel sector which led to some distributors contributing to the “congested political” scene through blocking the commodity.

Egypt was hit by a severe fuel shortage before the 30 June protests which prompted a nationwide wave of anger as traffic was blocked by long queues of vehicles waiting to fuel their tanks at petrol stations. The ousted government blamed the bottleneck on smugglers, as well as supporters of the Mubarak regime seeking to damage an already-struggling economy.

This was not the first fuel crisis in post-revolution Egypt. In 2012, the country had witnessed three fuel shortages, one of which coming before the presidential elections runoffs between Morsi and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq.

Around 90% of the fuel consumed in Egypt is domestically produced with the remaining 10% coming from overseas.


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