Kenya:Major Fuel Shortage Hits Western Region

Business Daily (Nairobi)

Zeddy Sambu

Fuel pumps in most parts of western Kenya
have run dry as increasing demand
associated with the festive season
weighs on thinning supplies by major oil dealers.

Kisumu was by Tuesday the most
affected with no petrol supplied since Christmas eve.

Other major towns including Eldoret,
the greater Kericho and Kisii districts
also had their supplies exhausted
after marketers were said to have
collected inadequate fuel products
from the national distribution system
on Christmas eve.

National pipeline officials owned up
to delays in loading petrol for the Kisumu depots,
but accused oil marketers
of failing to replenish their stocks in time.

"Oil marketers last loaded on December 24.
Our depots have been open through out
but the marketers did not come
for replenishments," said KPC's
operations manager, Mr Philip Kimelu.

On Tuesday, however, KPC was preparing
to load up to seven million litres
(stocks to last for one week)
for the Kisumu depot that
serves the city and neighbouring Uganda.

"Kisumu which requires about one million litres
of various products per day will receive
seven million litres and Eldoret (five)
to last for the next one week.

Additional supplies will last
each of them for one week,"
said Kimelu.

Most marketers contacted by
the Business Daily declined
to comment on the shortages
and subsequent price hikes.

It also emerged that the oil dealers
with few remaining stocks have raised
fuel prices by between Sh3 and Sh5
due to supply shortages,
sparking protests from motorists.

Most of the branded stations
in the region were selling a litre
of unleaded premium at Sh83.40,
regular at Sh84.40 and diesel at Sh73.40.

The independent dealers were selling
a litre of regular at Sh81.90
and diesel at Sh71.90.

In Nairobi, unleaded fuel is retailing at
Sh87 a litre within the Central Business
District (CBD) and neighbouring areas.

Marketers stand accused for
hoarding petroleum products at
a time when demand is high,
as well as flouting market rules
whenever demand peaks.

Nairobi and Mombasa account
for nearly 60 per cent of
the country's petroleum consumption.

Oil prices retreated to near $73 (Sh5,475)
a barrel on Monday as
Opec giants last week, indicated
they would leave crude production levels
unchanged while seeking to ensure
compliance with members' output
quotas by March, next year.

On December 1, international crude prices
touched the record levels of $79.2 per barrel
(159 litres), fuelling pressure at the pumps,
having risen from $68 a barrel in October,
when local pump prices stood at Sh81 per litre.

Supply bottlenecks have gripped
the oil industry in recent months
from break down at country's sole
ageing refinery to capacity
constraints at KPC.

Fears that the fuel prices are likely
to increase further due to increased
demand during the festive season
were compounded by a recent rally
in the prices for crude across
major international markets.

Between January and June, the refinery
has been facing technical challenges
on its facilities used
to produce petrol and cooking gas.

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Sent from Kigali, Rwanda

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