Kurdistan flooded with imported fuel in 2009

Jan 19, 2010 01:00 AM

Lack of refineries forces the Region to seek its fuel elsewhere. Some 56-mm litres of fuel used to generate power have been imported from Iran, says a customs official.
Despite the abundant oil resources Iraq and Kurdistan Region have, the country is still unable to refine their crude oil to satisfy the domestic demand for fuel. Lack of enough refineries and the low capacity of existing ones have been the major factors behind the shortage of fuel in the country.

Kurdistan Region, which, due to lack of its refineries, depends on the central government for its fuel, has never received its allocated share from Baghdad. This is at a time when the region depends mainly on fuel for power generation.
Only during the last year, some 56-mm litres of fuel were imported from Iran via Haj Omran international border point in Erbil Province.

An official from the transit department of the Haj Omran Border said that the imported fuel came from the Iranian Southern Bandar Abbas Port and the Turkish Encerlik to the Tmarchiyani border point inside Iran, where the quality of fuel is controlled before entering Kurdistan through Haj Omran.
"The biggest amount of the imported fuel has been used to generate power," said the official.

According to the official, some other firms have signed transportation contracts to transport fuel from Iran to Kurdistan Region, which means that the Region must expect the amount of fuel imports to increase even further in the current year.
Besides power generation, another source of the high fuel consumption is the large number of cars coming into the region. Every year, tens of thousands of cars are imported into Kurdistan. This high demand for fuel and lack of sufficient domestic fuel supply has led to the dependence of the Region on neighbours for its fuel needs.

In addition to increased prices, the fuel shortage in Kurdistan has led to lower-quality fuel. Most of the trades and fuel-station owners, aiming to increase their profits, add water and other cheap types of fuel and sell it. This has led to a large amount of damage to vehicles and a huge loss for owners and the Region's economy as a whole.
Though the government distributes subsidized gas to the public, whether for heating, cooking, or transportation, since the gas government distributes is refined inside Iraq and the quality and the quantity are not satisfactory, people are forced to satisfy part, if not all, of their fuel at a higher cost in the free market.

Recently, a committee was established from the Deputy Mayor of Erbil, Herish Hussein Hassan, and representatives from some other related government institutions to monitor the quality of the fuel sold in private fuel stations. The committee visits the fuel stations inside the Region's capital city of Erbil without prior notice and tests their fuel with special devices to make sure that the quality standards are complied with and there is no cheating by the owners.
Mr Hassan said that they monitor the fuel stations just like every other shop and market in the city.
"In case we find out that any station has cheated in its products or the quality is below the standards of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, the owner will be punished and the station will be closed," he noted.

The issue of quality control and consumer protection in Kurdistan has recently gained a high level of attention by the public and civil society organizations.
The KRG Ministry of Trade has drafted laws of trade, industry, and consumer protection, and submitted them to Parliament for discussion and approval -- something that gives some hope to the Region's population for an improved quality of goods and services they get.

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