, KHARTOUM, January 21 – Motorists in the Sudanese capital faced barricades and queues at petrol stations for a third day on Tuesday, after what an official called a distribution problem.
It is at least the second time since fighting began in the oilfields of South Sudan in mid-December that shortages have hit Khartoum, but officials dismiss any link.
An AFP reporter who visited nine petrol stations in downtown Khartoum and the nearby Amarat district on Tuesday found five of them closed, with barricades at the pumps.
Others were open, with just a handful of cars waiting, but in the sister city of North Khartoum a witness saw dozens of motorists lining up to buy fuel.
On Monday AFP saw the queues, which began forming on Sunday night, were more widespread and some filling stations were closed.
Senior oil ministry officials could not be reached on Tuesday, but on Monday a source in the ministry blamed a minor distribution problem.
“Today (Monday) there is no problem,” said the source who asked not to be named. He said the queues had formed only because people were worried.
On December 21, about a week after South Sudan’s army and rebels began fighting, dozens of passenger buses had to queue for diesel in the Khartoum area.
At that time, Hisham Taj Elsir, general manager of supply and petroleum trade at the oil ministry, said there was no shortage.
The distribution company had simply not withdrawn enough of its allocated supply for delivery to the stations that day, Elsir said.
Sudan’s own production of about 130,000 barrels per day provides more than enough for domestic petrol consumption, although the supply of diesel is supplemented by imports, he said.