Gas stations run dry in Zimbabwe

Oct 06, 2002 02:00 AM

The Zimbabwean government blamed severe gasoline shortages on hoarding of fuel and industry executives reported a slowing of imports from Libya. Long lines of cars waiting for gasoline returned to fuel stations in Harare, after more than two years of frequent shortages.
A report on new fuel shortages by a team of government investigators is scheduled for release. The energy ministry said the main Harare depot of the state National Oil Company had sufficient reserves to meet the capital's fuel needs.

Government officials suspected private distributors were hoarding fuel and that had lead to panic buying, causing gas stations to run dry. Private oil industry executives said panic buying may have been triggered by rumours that a new oil deal with Libya had run into trouble.
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the fuel procurement monopoly, said it was trying to raise $ 9 mm to pay outstanding freight and pumping charges for a consignment of Libyan gas berthed at the Mozambique port of Beira, causing delays in delivery. Zimbabwe signed a new oil deal with Libya on September 11 to supply $ 30 mm worth of gas a month for the next year.

Part of the cost would be met by Zimbabwean beef, tobacco and fruit exports to Libya. The north Africa country would also receive investments in Zimbabwean mining, tourism and agriculture, but a hard currency component for operational costs of delivery and some of the oil was included.
Zimbabwe's previous yearlong fuel contract with Libya expired August 31, with arrears on that deal still outstanding, according to industry executives.

Source: South African Broadcasting Corp.
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