11 February 2014

Liberia: "Security Threat" - As Fuel Shortage Hits Market - Aminata, Srimex Blamed

Photo: Eric Hersman
Downtown Monrovia.

With less than 50 days in the New Year, 2014, there is report of huge scarcity of fuel oil on the Liberian market, thus making it difficult for major entities to run effectively.

According to information gathered by this paper, the reported fuel shortage is tantamount to a serious national security threat as the operations of many entities are by now grounded or on the verge of being grounded. An investigation conducted by this paper showed that many of the importers that were given the right to import have been unable to come in with product on.Mainly, AMINATA and SRIMEX. As a result of this, many local entities are placing the blame on the two companies and LPRC as well.

According to investigation, AMINATA, SRIMEX were expected to bring in products after reaching an understanding with the LPRC.

Sources at LPRC said they gave the permission to these two entities to import at specific time, but due to some technical reasons, they were unable to do so.

"They have been importing products on the market before and it was due to their capacities that they were given this permission. But if they failed to bring it in at the time, there is no need to blame LPRC," one senior officer at LPRC said. According to records available to this paper, on the books, the various importers have products in stock on paper, but technically, they do not seem to have it. "They only have that figures on papers, but they just do not have anything in stock. We will blame LPRC for this shortage. They normally give preference to AMINATA and SRIMEX over the rest ofthe importers. At the end of the day, they turned them down," one retailer identified himself as Sam told this paper.

A visit done by this paper to various filling stations on Tuesday again, showed that there was no fuel. This hasled to serious problem for many local and international entities that rely on fuel for daily production.

For instance, the Liberia Electricity Corporation has to embark on current rationing due to fuel shortage.

"As you know, we run our generators on fuel. For the past time, we have not received fuel from LPRC. That is why we have decided to ration current in the city," a consultant to LEC said this. Similar statement was aired on state radio this week.

Below is the statistics of various importers in the country as of Monday February 10, 2014 from LPRC. These are what LPRC claim these entities have in their reserve. But sources said, this is not the case.

IMPORTERS DAIILY SALES REPORT

PMSAGOKEROJET A-1GRAND SUM

W/OIL 25,000 10,500 - nil

MOTC 21,000 16,500 20000 - nil

AMINATA 11,000 20,500 nil nil

SRIMEX 21,000 2,000 nil nil

KAILONDO 5,000 1,000 nil nil

DONKAN - - nil nil

NP.' 26,500 12,500 nil nil

PETRO TRADE 26,500 12,000 N - nil

TOTAL LIB - - - - TOTAL SALES 136,000 75,000 20,000 - - 211,000

The fuel shortage is said to be affecting ArcelorMittal operation as well some sections of the United Nations Missions in Liberia-UNMIL.

"We think this is a security threat. Do you know what this means for our nation," one senior government official was quoted as saying on Tuesday. These two entities have been blamed for the shortage on the market.

"For example, when many of the companies decided to bring in products, LPRC said that they did not have space to accommodate all of them. So, LPRC decided to allow SRIMEX and AMINITA to bring in their products," one source said from LPRC.

But when this paper called SRIMEX for comment, all phones rang to the longest and no one was available to speak.The same applied to AMINATA.

Another importer, National Petroleum-NP which is also an importer, said they could not comment on the shortage.

One lady, Odell Sampson who spoke on the phone said, "I do not know what you are talking about. If LPRC gave you statistic, then, go to LPRC to find out. We only bring in products in thecountry and we do not have storage facilities. Storage is done at LPRC. So, if LPRC said that is the quantity we have, then, that is it. But I do not know, I do not know," she said on the phone.

But a statement issued by LPRC said, they regretted the situation.

"We regret to inform the general public that SIR, the national refinery in Ivory Coast, where LPRC gets over 90% of its petroleum supply is currently down until further notice.

"Due to this unforeseen situation, we have to source petroleum supply from offshore Cameron and Europe. The expected shipment that should have arrived on the 10th of February is delayed until the 15th of February; as such, the present stock is running low.

"Based on this unexpected incident LPRC will have to manage the contingency stock until the next vessel arrives on Saturday. As it relates to diesel/fuel, please be informed that key institutions and filling stations will be supplied at 80% while other facilities at 55%. Also be informed that LPRC has more than enough gasoline (PMS) supply in its tanks and is supplying customers at 100%.

Meanwhile, two vessels are expected this week with a total of 16,000 MT of Diesel, which is approximately 4,000,000 gallons for distribution on the Liberian market."

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