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Illicit trade creates fuel shortage
Motorists are complaining that they spend long hours at gas stations

Illicit trade creates fuel shortage

The illicit fuel trade in the capital Addis Ababa and regional towns caused gasoline shortage.

Addis Ababa has been hit hard by critical shortage of benzene in the past two weeks. Motorists are complaining that they spend long hours at gas stations. It has become customary to see long queues at the fuel stations. Only a few stations in the capital are selling benzene.

Tadesse Hailemariam, CEO of the Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise, told The Reporter that the increasing illegal trade fuel trade is exacerbating the situation in the past two months. Tadesse said that fuel stations are illegally selling gasoline to individuals. “Gasoline is sold in kiosks in every nook and corner in Addis Ababa while motorist are unable to buy it at the gas stations,” Tadesse said.

According to Tadesse, a large number of barrels of benzene have been caught by police in some gas stations in Addis Ababa. “Forty eight barrels of gasoline was apprehended by police around Kolfe area,” he said.

Tadesse noted that gasoline which is transported from Djibouti to Ethiopia was constantly pilfered along the way. He said that there was no problem with the international procurement procedures. “The government allocates adequate foreign currency for the fuel purchase every year. The required amount of fuel is bought every year. The problem is that the illicit trade is not contained,” he said.

Tadesse called up on the relevant government bodies to conduct tight control on the local fuel distribution system.

Ethiopia consumes daily one million liters of benzene, 6.5 million liters of diesel and two million liters of jet fuel. The annual kerosene consumption is 260,000 metric tons. The consumption of kerosene is dwindling as the public is using electric stoves instead of kerosene ones. Kerosene has been used by illicit traders who are engaged in fuel adultery to mix it with benzene. The fuel adultery seems to be an act of the past now after price adjustment is made on the price of kerosene.  Accordingly the demand for kerosene is falling.     

The country’s annual fuel import which is growing at a rate of 10 percent has reached 3.8 million metric tons. EPSE has 13 fuel depots in 13 locations including Awash, Bahir Dar, Shashemene, Wolaita Sodo, Gambella, Nekemt, Agaro, Mekelle and Adigrat with a total capacity of storing 360,000cu.m. With the capacity to store 130,000cu.m of fuel Awash depot is the biggest oil terminal in the country.