Iraq Experiences Oil Crisis

One of the most oil-rich countries suffers from a serious lack of fuel

Hundreds of cars get in long lines in Baghdad to have their tanks filled with gas. Dozens of people are in the line as well: They hold fuel cans, plastic bottles and tanks in their hands. These people do not have cars - they buy gas in order to resell it the next minute. They sell five liters of high-quality gas for 13,000 Iraqi dinars, which equals six American dollars. The same amount of gas costs 250 dinars at a gas station.

Abu Ali, an elderly Iraqi man, has five 20-liter fuel cans: "I used to sell cheap lunches in streets, to workers, basically. No one works now, no one has any money now, so what should I do? How can I maintain my family? That is why I am sitting here, waiting for gas to come."

When a tank truck arrives at a gas station, the space around the station gets overcrowded. Dozens of people gather around the gasoline pump: someone keeps order, others come closer, someone else just watches everything happening in front of their eyes.

One gasoline pump is meant for people with fuel cans and plastic bottles. People are not careful when they fill their tanks, so they splash gasoline on the ground. You can see some men smoking right there.

Such a mess has already resulted in tragic consequences on several occasions. The last such accident happened several days ago at a gas station in the center of Baghdad, not far from the Iraqi national museum. Someone struck a match, and one little match blew up the whole gas station. Eighteen people were killed as a result of the blast, many were seriously wounded and several cars were burned. Such tragedies have happened before.

Mohammed Fadel, the manager of one of Baghdad's gas stations, said: "We cannot control the situation and provide security. Until recently, it was forbidden to let people bring fuel tanks with them to buy gasoline. It was only allowed to fill cars' tanks. Now a lot of people have weapons with them, and they are ready to use them if there is a need. A man with a grenade threatened to blow up a gas station the other day. His only demand was to let him have some gasoline."

Mohammed Fadel and his colleagues would be happy to meet the demands of everyone  experiences a need for automobile fuel, but this does not seem to be possible. Before the war, gas stations in Baghdad worked 24 hours a day, and tanker trucks brought petrol three times a day. Few of these gas stations are working at present, and gasoline is delivered to stations once a day. Many stations have ceased to operate, for they were either plundered or destroyed. As a result, there is a serious lack of gasoline at Baghdad gas stations - they work for three or four hours and then they are closed for the rest of the day.

Tanker-truck driver Abdel Razzak al-Jeburi said that the only Baghdad refinery works at a level of 20 percent of its capacity: "All tanker trucks are fine. We parked them in our gardens before the war started. That is why, when the refinery works at its full capacity, the gas crisis will stop." The driver believes that this will happen quite soon.

Baghdad drivers are being forced to spend a lot of their time in long lines to get gasoline at huge prices. The lack of fuel is having a negative influence in the agricultural sector as well. It is the time of the spring harvest in Iraq when people prepare their fields for winter sowing. If tractors have no fuel in their tanks, this will exert a negative influence on the situation with food supplies in Iraq, the RusEnergy news agency reports.

Author`s name Michael Simpson