The root of the oil derivatives crises in Yemen began with the tribes of Marib in 2007 and continued due to social and political disputes between tribes of Marib and the government. The situation worsened when tribes started blowing up oil pipelines between Marib and Rss Issa on the Red Sea. By the early days of the Arab Spring in 2011, oil and diesel shortages worsened, especially after the Saudi-led coalition intervention in Yemen aiming to restore exiled President AbdRabou Mansour Hadi.
From more than 3 months, thousands of cars can be seen lining up in front of petrol stations waiting for their authorized quantity of 40 litters for each car. Sana’a is getting the biggest quantity. Yemen Petroleum Company has created different strategies to end the crises, but the demand is double the injected quantities.
To discuss the reasons for the longest crises in Yemen’s history, National Yemen met with the General Manager of Yemen Petroleum Company, Saleh Fatah. Fatah talked freely and illustrated different factors behind the crises. He discussed the distribution plan, priorities, solutions, and the source of oil and diesel. He also talked about the oil black market and the rumors about closing some oil stations within Sana’a.
National Yemen: Mr. Saleh Fatah, Would you please brief us about Yemen Petroleum’s main role?
Saleh: The Yemen Petroleum company plays a vital role in securing and providing oil derivatives to public citizens, government organizations, hospitals, water wells and companies and individuals in Yemen.
As a result of the ongoing crisis and the war in Yemen led by the Saudi coalition, we have managed to create multiple ideas to improve our working style. Recently, we have allocated specific petrol stations for taxies, private cars, trucks, motorcycles and generators.
NY: What is Yemen’s total consumption of petrol per day?
Saleh: On normal days, Yemen consumes about 12 million liters of petrol and a similar quantity of diesel. Let me again tell you about the capital secretariat Sana’a, which does not contain agricultural farms, but has commercial factories, hotels, hospitals, and other commercial sectors. The daily consumption here on normal days is 1.5 million liters of petrol and 1.2 million liters of diesel.
The consumption of the two materials grows with the power cuts in Yemen. For example, if each house in Sana’a uses 5 liters per day with an average of 4,000 houses, then there will be big shortages.
NY: This time the crisis does not include diesel. People have stored big quantities from the former crises. How true is this?
Saleh: This is not true and if there was some stored diesel it has gone with the wind. We have little quantity from Marib and it gets distributed among bakeries, cleaning projects, telecom and electricity.
NY: How do you justify the concerns of people about storing more than their need?
Saleh: The concerns of the citizens are linked to the daily bombardments of the Saudi coalition. From our side we have tried new techniques to ensure the available quantities are reached to the most people and to send positive messages to the people too.
Again, I can say the concerns of the people are justified and our solutions are being developed to ease these concerns and to bring the matter back to normality, but the problem is still in the heads of those who find it good business by moving their cars in between petrol stations.
We have injected big quantities but the problem remains as if nothing has been injected.
NY: Could you please tell NY readers about the story of when you decided to allocate one petrol station for women?
Saleh: well, the initiative of naming separate petrol stations for women was made after we saw a good number of women lining up for fuel like men. Some of were sleeping inside cars, and that was a pity and socially rejected. For this we have allocated one petrol station for women, which operates 12 hours a day starting at 6am and ends at 6pm. This was a good idea, but we have faced the same troubles. Men were sending their wives, daughters and relatives to refill cars with petrol, and as a result of this women came to suffer no less than me and created this trouble for themselves. Now they are used to it and the number of cars has been vanished in front of the women petrol stations.
NY: People are accusing the petrol stations of smuggling half of their quantities to the black market and sometimes for their own use. How true is this?
Saleh: Yes, there are few people doing this, but we still monitor them and enforce the legal process such as tracking the code number of each petrol station before and after the supply process. To avoid the common problems, we have assigned committees from three different official groups like the police, our staff, and people from the surrounding areas of the petrol station. This has been done to ensure transparency and to avoid any more cheating.
NY: There is a serious crisis continuing despite of the new injected quantities of oil. How did you manage this during a short period of ceasefire? Tell me more about it.
Saleh: Let me tell you quite frankly, Yemen was normal until March 26th. Our business interactions with the rest of the world of oil derivatives and local contractors were perfect. The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen imposed serious sanctions, but we had already made our business plan by the first moth of the year, two months ahead of the Saudi airstrikes. The fuel in today’s market was already shipped to Yemen. It is not a gift. It was purchased by the government of Yemen.
There was about 500,000 liters of petrol comes from Marib refinery and 400,000 liters of diesel. As a result of the military clashes these were stopped.
NY: People do accuse Yemen Petroleum Company of creating the crises to generate public opinion against the Saudi sanctions?
Saleh: The people are the first party responsible for creating the crises through storing large quantities. I can tell you that half of the quantities are stores in houses and commercial buildings. The stored quantities at people’s residences will cover their needs for months. At the same time they are very much excused.
In four days, we have injected 12 million liters of petrol only for Sana’a, despite that the crisis remains.
NY: You used to leak some rumors like the evaporation of petrol if it gets stored more than five days. Why do you do so?
Saleh: We are not behind this. Its people to people rumors that they leak and they believe. All what we do here at the YPC is to work day and night to make life easier, to create a system for their use.
NY: Do you have any more comments?
Saleh: No, every day there is a comment and I do not want to list all my comments. My office has turned into my residence. I still hope to see people having their fuel as normal and I still forgive them in such a situation. Thanks to you and to National Yemen for taking the initiative to be in my office.