By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 6 August 2014:
Tripoli Municipal Council has confirmed that the Libyan oil tanker Anwar Libya arrived at Tripoli port yesterday carrying more . . .[restrict]than 9 million litres of petrol. Preparations are being made to distribute its cargo to petrol stations across the capital, the council said.
It is hoped that the arrival of the tanker will help alleviate the petrol crises in the greater Tripoli area. The capital has not had any large supplies of fuel or cooking gas delivered since the fighting started three weeks ago between the two blocs of warring militias which led to the destruction of Brega’s fuel depot located on Airport Road. The price of fuel has since rocketed.
It is worth noting that petrol can be found in Misrata, about three hours drive away, and in Zawia, about 45 minutes away. Both Misrata and Zawia have their own fuel depots, but do not have enough supply to satisfy the demand of Tripoli, Libya’s largest urban concentration.
Meanwhile, Brega’s Zawia depot has announced that it is making preparations to announce a “state of emergency” so as to be able operate on a 24-hour basis.
Operating around the clock would enable the plant to be at its maximum productive capacity, the statement explained so as to be able to supply consumers with fuel and propane cooking gas.
Based on this, the statement said that it anticipates that the current petrol, diesel and cooking gas crises would end “within a week”.
Tripoli Municipal Council’s Crisis Committee meanwhile has been discussing the various options to distribute new supplies of fuel. It is worth noting that most petrol stations are closed in Tripoli. Some of these have made the decision to close after suffering damage, coercion and personal attacks by unarmed and armed frustrated customers.
Others have shut down because they cannot operate whenever there is a power cut, which has been occurring regularly – and do not own a generator to operate the petrol pumps. However, there are some petrol station operators/owners that have been accused of closing down for no real good reason, and have been accused of being partisan and playing politics by closing down.
So as to circumvent the problem of closed petrol stations and all the crowding and problems around them, the Tripoli Council is looking at the possibility of a widespread distribution of mobile petrol trucks with a fuel pump and meter attached. It will also be looking to help those petrol stations wishing to open by helping provide electric generators to operate their pumps.
However, the biggest demand by petrol stations has been the provision of security for both their property and personnel from troublemakers and petrol racketeers.
There is also talk of Brega Marketing, the NOC arm concerned with fuel, oils and cooking gas distribution, taking legal action against petrol stations that are accused of sympathising with clashing militias. This could lead to the withdrawal by Brega Marketing of operating licences to petrol operators of leased petrol stations and to owners of private petrol stations and re-offering these stations to new operators.
There is also a plan to help repair existing petrol stations that have been intentionally or unintentionally damaged during current petrol crises, as well as hastening the licensing process of many new petrol stations awaiting the slow licencing process.
With regards to domestic propane gas, the plan is to work at filling gas cylinders on a 24-hour bases at the Zawia Brega plant.
There are also plans to import large quantities of gas cylinders and implement a policy of widespread sales of these cylinders – at official prices. Prior to the fighting in Tripoli, new cylinders could only be obtained from Brega at the official price of LD 40 through connections (wasta).
The black market price for buying new gas cylinders has been at above LD 100 for a few years now. After the fighting erupted the price of exchanging an existing empty gas cylinder for a full one reached as high as LD 150, instead of the normal LD 5.