The KRG Oil and Gas Council held a meeting last week to discuss fuel shortages. The meeting culminated with the announcement of four important steps aimed at combating fuel shortage in the Kurdistan Region.
The meeting was headed by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.
In the meeting, also attended by the Region’s governors and the finance, natural resources, and planning ministers, the fuel shortage affecting the Kurdistan region was the main topic of discussion. The areas of Kurdistan beyond KRG administration but now protected by Peshmerga forces were also discussed.
It was noted that the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq now face a huge rise in demand for fuel, particularly benzene. This demand for fuel outside of Kurdistan is acute because the Baiji oil refinery is currently unable to supply benzene due to the recent militant attacks. Within the Kurdistan Region, the refineries are having difficulty meeting internal demands. This is because, in addition to the cessation of the Baiji oil refinery supply, the Peshmerga forces require large amounts of fuel and benzene each day. The forces operate on the frontlines, and the borders of the Kurdistan Region are currently beyond KRG administration, requiring a great deal of transport.
Four measures were decided upon during the meeting:
1. The Kurdistan Region’s border crossing will be open for private sector supply of benzene, to be sold commercially. The sale will fall under the supervision of the Ministry of Natural Resources for two reasons: to maintain quality control and to monitor pricing.
2. The distribution of benzene produced in the Region’s refineries will be regulated in a manner consistent with demand and the capacity of the refineries to ensure the availability of benzene for automobiles. A system will be implemented in which benzene is distributed based on the license plates of vehicles, with odd number plates allowed to purchase benzene one day and even number plates the next. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Finance and Economy will soon issue directives to print new distribution cards that are difficult to forge.
3. Taxis, buses, and cars shuttling between cities will be dealt with uniquely. They will have their own benzene station and can increase their share of benzene on the condition that the Directorates of Commercial Control and the Ministry of Interior monitor the prices charged to passengers using this method of transportation.
4. All ministries are empowered to regulate the use of government vehicles with a view to reducing the amount of benzene consumed.
Residents who are financially capable are requested to purchase benzene from private benzene stations if possible, as this will help to alleviate the shortage until it is completely handled. This also allows residents with limited income a better opportunity to fill their vehicles at government benzene stations via the ration card system.
The Prime Minister instructed the governors of the Kurdistan Region to coordinate and work together to implement these decisions in all the governorates of Kurdistan in a fair and just manner.
Finally, the issue of jet fuel was discussed. The Minister of Natural Resources noted that the matter had been handled completely, explaining that the airports in the Kurdistan Region have no shortage in their supply of jet fuel, and the required amount of this type of gasoline is available in the Kurdistan Region. Separately, the Minister assured that there is sufficient quantity of liquid gas in the Kurdistan Region and that there are no dilemmas regarding this supply.
Following the closed meeting, KRG Spokesperson Minister Safeen Dizayee, the Governors of Erbil, Slemani, and Duhok, and the Head of the Garmian Administration held a joint press briefing. They explained the results of the meeting and next steps to be taken, also answering questions from journalists regarding the fuel shortage.