Fuel Shortage Persists but Petroleum Chief Pledges Resolution Tomorrow - Birr

Fuel Shortage Persists but Petroleum Chief Pledges Resolution Tomorrow - Birr Metrics.

April 2, 2024

Ethiopia’s ongoing fuel shortage continues to impact major cities, even as the head of the state petroleum enterprise pledges the crisis will soon end.

A shortage of fuel has been felt in Addis Ababa and other towns since end of last week, caused by issues disrupting fuel imports from Djibouti, Ethiopia’s main entry point.

Yasmaalem Mihretu, the CEO of the Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise, explained the efforts to address disruption due to heavy rains and infrastructure damage in Djibouti last week. He also cited an incident where an overturned fuel tanker blocked a road.

Every day, at least 9.2 million liters of diesel are pumped into the market—a volume that reliably meets the fixed needs of trucks, buses and other vehicles that run on diesel.

In contrast, daily benzene demand fluctuates between 2.2 to 2.4 million liters. However, actual supply amounts vary, coming in as low as 1.9 million liters on some days.

The latest shortage reflects Ethiopia’s reliance on Djibouti, which handles 90 percent of imports including fuel. Transport links through Djibouti have faced similar past disruptions.

On the ground, impacts are being felt this time too. “I waited two hours to fill my car,” said ride driver Yigrem Abayu in Addis Ababa. Another driver, Eyob Mersha, said “I had to wake at midnight to fill my car but still waited.”

Transport services have been disrupted throughout Addis Ababa and other major towns, with long queues of people waiting for taxis becoming more evident than usual at stations this week.

Officials have been striving for the last five years to establish alternative supply routes through the ports of Berbera in Somaliland and Lamu in Kenya, as well as increasing fuel storage capacity. However, there were still disruptions to supply at various points last year.

With Djibouti links cut, Yasmalem says fuel trucks are now using the Dire Dawa route. However, this is insufficient for nationwide demand. “We are working tirelessly to solve this problem quickly,” he pledged. "More fuel trucks will arrive today and tomorrow.”

Yasmaalem assured the public: “We expect the fuel shortage to be fully resolved by tomorrow morning.”