CAIRO: Despite the government’s denial of serious fuel shortages, a number of gas stations across Egypt have reported a month-long ongoing cut in supply.
Iman Derbala, owner and manager of Mobil Derbala gas station, told Daily News Egypt that even though the official media is saying there is no crisis, “stations are not getting their share of fuel but people think we are hoarding it or selling it on the black market. The truth is there is no petrol.”
Derbala explained that her station’s share, provided by Mobil company, is normally 30,000 liters a day, but that for days now, she has only been receiving 10,000 liters “which won’t last two hours,” she said.
Furthermore, she explained that her station has been short on gasoline 90 for 12 days and gets only a third of its required share of gasoline 92.
“The workers want to make their living. I pay them the tips they used to get so now I have a double loss,” Derbala told DNE.
“It is possible that the army or government stations are getting more than their share,” she said.
Ahmed Abdel Hay, who works at a Mobil gas station in Heliopolis, agreed that there has been a shortage in 90, 92 and 95 gasoline.
“This has been going on for a month, but has only been covered by the media over the past few days,” he said.
“We don’t get the amounts we request. We order 50,000 liters but only 7,000 are delivered, which only meets the demand for about an hour,” he said.
On the other hand, Morad Mahmoud Sabri, who works at the national Co-op gas station said that they are not facing any shortages in fuel.
“Gasoline 80, 90, 92 are all available. But we are a public sector company. Of course there are respectable private sector companies, but some of them could be selling the fuel in the black market,” he said.
Ahmed Abdel Baki, a sales manager at Egypt Petroleum agreed that “there is no crisis.”
“These are malicious rumors aiming to disrupt the country’s production cycle. They just need to increase shares and manage the distribution. The gas stations are full of fuel. This crisis is created by the people, not because there is a gas shortage,” he said.
Tamer Abu Bakr, president of the energy committee in the industrial union and former president of Cooperative Petroleum Company, however believes that there is a fuel shortage because of corruption in the distribution part of the supply chain.
“The Ministry of Petroleum said that fuel is available and that there is an increase in the share from last year. Assuming the government is honest, then there is corruption within the distribution,” Abu Bakr told DNE.
According to Abu Bakr, normally, distribution companies like Egypt Petrol, Shell, Co-Op, Mobil and Caltex are provided by the ministry. These companies, through contractors, distribute the fuel to gas stations.
Abu Bakr believes that there is collusion between some officials in the distribution companies and some contractors.
“Some contractors receive more than their share. While they should receive 100 tons, they receive 300. They take petrol to specific gas stations in Egypt, they ship it and smuggle it to countries like Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, selling it for 1.25 euro per liter, which is equivalent to LE 10,” Abu Bakr alleged.
“One ship could take up to 22 containers with a capacity of 704,000 liters,” he said.
He emphasized that subsidizing petrol opens the door to corruption and the black market.
“The policy of subsidies is not in the people’s interest; it is an opportunity to create a black market, we have to remove the subsidies gradually and start using natural gas to reduce our energy bill,” he said.
Magdi Nasrallah, chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department at the American University in Cairo, explained that Egypt is in debt of LE 70 million for oil and petrol “and yet it [the fuel] does not reach people.”
“We have to rationalize distribution. We need hard currency to overhaul the budget. Hopefully, once there is political stability, the economic situation will stabilize,” he said.