Fuel bite shortlived, says PS

February 3, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – The government has assured the public that the current fuel shortage will normalise in a few days.

Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike told Capital Business that four oil companies had on Monday collected 1.4 million litres of super petrol from the Kenya Pipeline Company’s Nairobi terminal, which also has 6.9 million litres of the commodity that should meet consumer demands.

“Yesterday (Monday), Kenol Kobil lifted 250,000 litres of super, Shell Limited lifted 689, 000 litres while Total collected 200,000 litres of super and 100,000 litres of regular petrol. Oilcom collected 255,000 litres,” the PS disclosed.

He explained that the shortage, which had been reported in several petrol stations, had been caused by the break down of compressors, which produce super petrol at the Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited (KPRL) but said the problem was being rectified.

“The refinery is very old and that is why we are experiencing all these challenges. The management (of the refinery) is repairing its systems by regenerating a catalyst of production of super petrol and that process is expected to be completed within seven days,” he pledged.

Thus the refinery, which produces 70 percent of the country’s super petrol, would resume normal operations within one week.

Mr Nyoike said the KPRL management did inform the government of the collapse of the compressor and they took the decision to meet the shortfall.

They invited tenders for the importation of 18 million litres, which were expected to arrive by mid January, but were delayed due to the piracy problems along the coast of Somalia.

Another vessel carrying 50 million litres of petrol is expected to berth next week thus making the total amount of fuel expected in the country by mid this month 68 million litres.

“The situation should therefore normalise soon,” the PS assured.

PS Nyoike’s assurance came even as the shortage of fuel in the city continued to bite on Tuesday, as many motorists drove from station to station in search of petrol.

An attendant at the Caltex Petrol station on Kimathi Street said that fuel had run out early on Tuesday morning.

According to the attendant, the current shortage crisis has been caused by transport hitches at the depots.  
“We had fuel in this station but now since the whole of Nairobi came here it has run out,” he explained, emphatically stating that there was no shortage.

“But fuel is there. I myself will even go to the depot to make arrangements to bring fuel to the station,” he promised.

Capital News spoke to a few disgruntled motorists who were not happy with the situation.

“Since very early in the morning I have been looking for fuel. I passed through Thika road, Westlands and in town it is this station alone which is operational,” one motorist stated.

“I have wasted so much time yesterday (Monday) evening and this (Tuesday) morning looking for petrol. I am supposed to travel to Muranga, people are waiting for me,” added another driver, who described the whole situation as deplorable.

“I do not know if I will even get fuel here because the queue is not even moving,” said a third irritated motorist.

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