Maputo — Mozambique's state-owned fuel company, Petromoc, has said that it can supply the entire country with fuel, thus breaking the boycott imposed by private fuel companies who are attempting to blackmail the government.
Filling stations owned by the private companies are receiving limited quantities of fuel or none at all. The result is queues at the petrol pumps, and the introduction of ad-hoc rationing. Thus on Tuesday some stations were limiting motorists to 20 litres of petrol each.
The Finance and Energy Ministries have continued to negotiate with the fuel companies - but the latter threatened that they would only resume normal supplies when the government defines and applies mechanisms that will compensate the companies for their current losses, arising from the difference between the world market price of fuel and the domestic price determined by the government, which has not increased since March.
The tough line taken by the companies surprised the government. Energy Minister Salvador Namburete has repeatedly stated that he gave the companies guarantees in writing weeks ago that they would be compensated for their losses.
Petromoc is trying to fill the gap created by the private companies. On Wednesday it issued a release assuring the public that it had sufficient quantities of fuel available in the country. But the boycott by the private companies inevitably led to long queues at the Petromoc stations over the weekend.
The company stressed that it has reacted by resupplying its filling stations two or three times a day, "which has forced us to undertake a logistics and programming effort that is out of the normal". Even so, some of the Petromoc filling stations had occasionally run out.
Petromoc has the largest network of filling stations in the country, and the release listed them all - 25 in Maputo city and province, and 87 in the rest of the country.
One of the Petromoc directors, Eduardo Magalhaes, cited by the independent daily "O Pais", said that the extra supplies sent to the filling stations have been drawn from Petromoc's reserve stocks, which will last for 15 days. By that time the next tanker carrying refined fuels will have arrived in Maputo port.
The tanker is due on 3 August, and will restock the Petromoc reserve. Magalhaes said that Petromoc had foreseen this problem and had asked the fuel import agency, IMOPETRO, to provide extra amounts of fuel so that Petromoc can cope with the artificial shortages imposed by the other companies.