CAIRO: Police officers thwarted attempts to smuggle fuel outside Egypt as well as sell it in the black market, the Alexandria Security Directorate said Tuesday, as part of efforts to end an ongoing fuel crisis denied repeatedly by the government.
“Polices caught the owner of Alexandria for Chemicals Company gathering amounts of subsidized petrol substances from the local market and smuggling it outside of the country,” Khaled El-Azazi, media spokesperson of Alexandria’s Security Directorate, told Daily News Egypt.
“They smuggle it through countries like Sudan and Libya,” he added.
While some station managers attributed the crisis to a month-long decrease in supply in favor of state-owned companies, others blamed corruption and smuggling.
Through a campaign launched by the police, the manager of the chemicals company was caught trying to smuggle 315,000 liters of gasoline 80 and 227,000 liters of solar, the Alexandria Security Directorate said.
A representative at the Alexandria for Chemicals Company could not be immediately reached for comment.
According to El-Azazi, the manager responsible for a car service station refused to sell citizens solar, provided by the petroleum ministry. He was caught with 3,850 liters of solar attempting to sell it in the black market, with a much higher price. The name of the station’s operating company and its location weren’t disclosed.
El-Azazi also stated that a manager of an Egypt Petroleum gas station was caught with 2400 liters of solar to be sold in the black market.
“There will be a lawsuit, a fine and prison sentences [against the suspects],” El-Azazi said. He explained that the fuel, which the suspects attempted to smuggle, was seized by the government and will be transferred and stored at the Cooperative Association of Petroleum.
Ahmed Abdel Baki, a sales manager at Egypt Petroleum, denied any foul play.
When contacted on Tuesday he reiterated earlier statements that the “crisis is created by the people not the [fuel] shortage.”
Abdel Baki said that Egypt Petroleum closely monitors the gas stations working under its name; which makes it hard for anyone to take more than their shares and save it for black market.
“Egypt Petrol is a big company; we cannot say that about it. The people working there are respectful and they understand their work very much,” he said.
“Crime is everywhere and in every field, assuming that there is someone smuggling fuel, it is not an excuse to stand in lines to fill tanks when they are already halfway full, disrupting the cycle of the gas station,” Abdel Baki said.
Abdel Baki argued that Egyptians lack the ability to deal with problems such as this.
Tamer Abu Bakr, head of the energy committee in the Industrial Union, told DNE that some contractors, who work with petrol distribution companies, such as Egypt Petrol and Co-op, take more than their specific shares in order to sell it in the black market.
Abu Bakr explained that some gas stations are owned by the petrol distribution companies; while others are managed by individuals who are given contracts by those companies.
“You cannot control everything; the big influence [of smuggling fuel] will not be in gas stations, it will be in the warehouses, where the trucks [transferring fuel] will not go to their assigned destination,” he argued.