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#502296 - 03/17/15 10:58 AM Fuel Ship Late, Rations In Effect
Marty Offline
The fuel shipment which comes into the country every three weeks is four days late this month - and some service stations are saying they'll run out of gas before it arrives. Diesel and Premium fuels are already being rationed but the UNO fuel company says that a good many of its 11 service stations countrywide will be out of those fuels by the time the shipment comes. That fuel will start to run out tomorrow, most likely, in San Ignacio.

The man we call Belize's Fuel Czar, John Mencias, who is the Deputy Chairman of Alba Petrocaribe Belize Energy Limited oversees the importation of fuel into Belize. He concedes that the shipment is late but he doesn't expect that it should force a shortage. A number of fuel station owners we spoke to said it is a matter of management. They told us that rationing is happening but fuel station owners should plan in advance and keep their reserves topped up. So far, we know that at least 2 fuel stations: one in Punta Gorda and the other in Belmopan have run out of premium and diesel. UNO says it is only being rationed about 20% of its daily fuel needs and so has had to turn back large customers. Of course, its significant that PUMA, the importer of fuels is also the one controlling the rationing - and PUMA also has fuel stations - which some say is a rather obvious conflict of interest.

We'll keep monitoring the situation because the fuel shipment does not arrive until Saturday.

Annually, March is the month in which the most fuel is consumed.

Channel 7


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#502457 - 03/20/15 10:52 AM Re: Fuel Ship Late, Rations In Effect [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Fuel Shortage Continues, Relief On Far Horizon

Tonight the fuel shortage we told about on Tuesday is acute: gas stations all over the country have run out of diesel fuel - and the few gas stations that do have say they only have a few gallons available. How did it come to this? Well, as we told you on Tuesday, the shipment from PDVSA in Venezuela is late and industry observers say the local office for ALBA Petro-Caribe Belize Energy Limited did not properly project for the fuel consumption in March - when fuel consumption is always highest. The situation right now is that the ship is loading tonight in Curacao - but won't arrive in Belize until next week Tuesday - over a week late. This evening, we called 10 gas stations in Belize City and out district - and only one of them had diesel fuel. UNO tells us that nine of their eleven gas stations countrywide have no diesel.

So, the situation right now is acute - and those who use diesel want to know when it will get better. Well, we know that PUMA continues to truck in fuel from Guatemala - and the APBEL office in Belize tells us that 40 trucks have been brought in since last week. Trucks keep coming every day, but that's hardly enough - and those scarce supplies are being rationed.

So what has created this shortage? The Deputy Chairman of APBEL John Mencias tells us that there was a 30% spike in fuel demand in March which is driving the shortage. He added that lower prices, higher demand, smuggling of cheap fuel from Belize across the border, and lack of adequate storage facility have all combined to create the shortage.

The concern for fuel stations now is that when the Diesel tanker does come in - PUMA, which controls the importation, will feed diesel to its service stations, first, and on a preferential basis - putting other service stations at a disadvantage. UNO tells us that they have back orders for two hundred thousand gallons of diesel. We'll keep monitoring the situation - but out only advice tonight is that if you find diesel anywhere buy as much as your gas tank can hold - because it's very scarce.

Channel 7


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#502458 - 03/20/15 11:21 AM Re: Fuel Ship Late, Rations In Effect [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Anyone want to buy a horse that eats sargassum?
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#502462 - 03/20/15 11:35 AM Re: Fuel Ship Late, Rations In Effect [Re: Katie Valk]
Mike Campbell Offline
Make all the cars and trucks run on ## and hot air and the problem is solved.

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#502506 - 03/21/15 11:16 AM Re: Fuel Ship Late, Rations In Effect [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Fuel Shortage: When Will It End? Who’s To Blame?

Tonight, Diesel fuel remains scarce at service stations. PUMA has been bringing in fuel by tanker trucks and gas stations are given daily rations to try and supply their customers - but widespread shortages quickly consumer all available supply, and, invariably, those rationed supplies finish by day's end.

It will remain that way until fuel tanker ships arrive next week Tuesday night. So, on Wednesday supply should be normalized. But, many are asking how did it come to this? Is it a problem with PDVSA (Pe-De-Ve-Sa)? Or is it happening because APBEL - the Alba Petrocaribe Belize Energy Limited is now in charge of ordering fuel? APBEL is run by a government appointee not a fuel industry veteran - and so we asked that government appointee, John Mencias squarely today if it is his fault:..

Jules Vasquez
"Because of your lack of expertise, your lack of experience, I should say. You did not forecast that March would be the busiest highest volume month for fuel demands. You mis-forecasted and therefore we have the shortage. How do you respond to that?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"Well, it's a misconception. Things have not changed in terms of who is responsible for forecasting local needs from the time previous to the start of the PetroCaribe arrangement and now. It is still PUMA Energy. So, we are not responsible at all to forecast. That is solely the domain of PUMA and the wholesalers in the local market."

Jules Vasquez
"So then, if it is a case of mis-forecasting, it would have to be PUMA's fault and not yours?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"If it is a case of mis-forecasting, yes."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it such a case of mis-forecasting?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"It would be hard for me to judge. You are right. I am not familiar with how the market moves. So, I will not be able to tell. I have heard from officials from PUMA that demands spike suddenly in March. Much more than they thought and we have evidence of that, in terms of what was required of us. PUMA is reporting a demand in March, so far, is trending 30% higher than usual and I guess as a result of that, we have this situation on hand, exorbidated of course, by the fact that we are delayed in sending the shipment from Pedevesa to Belize."

Jules Vasquez
"When it arrives on Tuesday night, it will be over a week late by then?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"Yes, it would be say a week, 1-2 days late - about 9 days."

Jules Vasquez
"Right. Now, is this a function of a failing PetroCaribe initiative? Is it something you can reasonably do jump on the phone with Venezuela and say look, you guys are really affecting me and I need that thing on that ship last night."

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"Yes. It has happened before, that they have brought up a shipment earlier. Yes, that have done that before and we have been behind them in this particular case, but they have been unable to respond."

Jules Vasquez
"I can't imagine that fuel would be late to go to Citgo in the United States, which is really the breadbasket of the Venezuelan oil operation. Inevitably, as there are more domestic pressures in Venezuela, perhaps, they have to give lower priority, to fuel shipped out on PetroCaribe."

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"No. I don't think so. I think what's happening, the particular nature of the program is that all the fuel is sourced from one refinery. And if there is an operational malfunction or some other problem, you would have this kind of thing happening."

Jules Vasquez
"This break in the chain of supply, have given so many people hope that the government will see that reliance on PUMA is create for an unstable situation."

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"You can't use one instance and come to that conclusion. It's just one instance."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it wise to rely on a single supplier, as a general rule of thumb?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"I don't think the problem is whether it's a single supplier or not. I think it is one of inventory management, storage capacity at the depot."

Jules Vasquez
"Should the government invest in its own tank form and invests a day when it can move away from enriching PUMA which still acts as the storage and the importer effectively?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"I think that is a question for the government indeed."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you so advised?"

John Mencias, Deputy Chairman - APBEL
"Just at the moment, no."

PUMA is bringing a twenty thousand barrel tanker and government will bring a thirty thousand barrel tanker. Both are on the way - but until they arrive rationing and periodic shortages will continue.

Channel 7


Bus Drivers in the North Head to the Border for Diesel

Going into the weekend, a shortage of diesel and premium fuel is having serious effects on the transportation industry so much so that public transportation is heading across the border to purchase diesel. Tonight only gas stations in Belize City have a limited supply of diesel; elsewhere in the country it is not available. While the sole importer, PUMA is bringing in the fuel by land, it is not enough to suffice the demand which has grown by thirty percent this month. A tanker from Venezuela is not expected to arrive in country until next Tuesday. In the meantime, the rationing continues. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The scarcity of fuel, particularly diesel and premium, is most felt in the transportation industry where the regulation of available petrol has seen bus owners having to adjust accordingly to the present shortage.  Daily runs from as far north as Corozal have been restricted to no more than a hundred and fifty dollars in fuel.  While the limit, in some ways, ensures that there are few gallons left for other consumers, it has forced several bus lines in the north to cross the border into Chetumal to purchase fuel.  News Five visited the Pound Yard today where we were told that the current ceiling is only enough for a return trip to Corozal.  At the end of the run, buses are driven to Chetumal where they are refueled at a slightly higher cost, notwithstanding fumigation and other expenses incurred at the border.  It’s an inflated undertaking, in spite of the need to transport commuters to and from the municipalities.

This afternoon, a queue of tankers arrived from neighboring Guatemala overland to discharge fuel at the Puma Energy depot on Caesar Ridge Road.  The alternate measure, presumably costly, has, to some, extent assuaged the situation.  However, it is clearly not enough to satisfy the overwhelming thirst for diesel.  The problem, according to industry insiders, is acute since the need for fuel has risen steeply, by as much as thirty percent this month alone.  While the spike is being attributed to increased productivity within the sugar industry, reserves in Orange Walk and Corozal, as with other parts of the country, have all but dried up.

Back in the city, tour operators, including Yhony Rosado’s Cavetubing.com, are taking advantage of business relationships with various service stations.  Despite also being limited to a hundred and fifty dollars per bus, Rosado’s fleet has been fueled; a potential crisis somewhat averted within the fickle tourism industry.  Elsewhere, including Port of Belize Limited, where a majority of the operations are fuel-intensive, reserves are being withdrawn.  According to CEO Arturo Vasquez, there is a week and a half’s worth of diesel presently in storage at the facility.  PBL has also secured a tanker to transport fuel from the adjacent depot when necessary.

Other critical functions, including sanitation and garbage collection, which rely heavily on fuel consumption are largely unaffected.  Companies such as Belize Waste Control that purchase diesel from Sol are also using up their reserves until the paucity comes to an end.  That, we are told, will be sometime early next week since the shipment from Venezuela is late in arriving.  The tanker carrying fuel from PDVSA was only just filled on Thursday night, well over a week after its arrival date to Belize.

Channel 5


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