Fuel shortage 'not linked to smuggling'
Manama, October 1, 2012
Claims that a diesel smuggling operation was behind a shortage of the fuel in the Bahraini market have been denied by officials.
They attributed the issue to a confusion over Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) opening its new diesel loading facility in Sitra.
However, National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) oil and gas affairs general manager Jassim Al Shirawi said Bapco had now resolved the problem.
"Before the facility was opened at the end of August, Bapco's bulk customers took their supplies from fuel stations across Bahrain," he said during a Press conference held at the facility yesterday.
"However, after the Sitra facility was opened, Bapco directed all bulk customers to come there. Some of the private fuel stations did not comply with the regulations and were giving bulk supplies at the cost of smaller customers who were denied diesel."
This directly caused a shortage of diesel in fuel stations in parts of the country, added Al Shirawi.
"Instructions have now been issued to all fuel stations to give only a maximum of 4,000 litres each to its existing bulk customers for the time being," he said. "They will be allowed to do this only until the end of this year, after which they would have to compulsorily come to the Sitra terminal for their supplies."
However, Al Shirawi said customers who need more than 4,000 litres will have to visit the Sitra terminal. He said steps had also been taken to provide all stations with adequate supplies.
Smuggling of fuel exists in the country, but Al Shirawi said it was due to people taking advantage of low diesel prices.
"We are taking measures, in association with Customs and port authorities, to eliminate smuggling," he added. "Seventeen cases of smuggling detected this year are being investigated while, since 2006, 42 cases have been detected and investigated."
He said Bahrain subsidised fuel up to BD200 million ($514 million), with BD75 million for diesel alone.
"Of the total production of 85,000 barrels per day (bpd), we have 7,500 bpd for the local market," he explained. "We have more than enough supplies to ensure there is no shortage in Bahrain and the steps we have taken will make that happen."
Also present at the Press conference were Bapco acting marketing general manager Zakaria Sulaiman and local marketing manager Nooruddin Ebrahim.
"Bapco has invested more than $11 million in building an advanced bulk diesel facility in Sitra. This provides fast and efficient services for all those wishing to acquire large quantities of diesel for consumption in local market with no exception," said Sulaiman.
"Over the last few years, we have worked with our partners in private stations and co-operative societies to provide efficient services and ensure the subsidy is received by deserving parties. In the meantime we shall intensify our efforts to ensure that fuel dealers are well qualified in conformity with safety and environment requirements." – TradeArabia News Service
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