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Refinery shutdown: Fuel crisis looms in Sudan

December 13 - 2017 OMDURMAN
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders sold in Nyala, South Darfur (File photo: Albert González Farran / Unamid).
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders sold in Nyala, South Darfur (File photo: Albert González Farran / Unamid).

Economists have predicted the Sudan will face a serious fuel crisis in the coming months following the scheduled shutdown of the Khartoum refinery in early March for maintenance and the final decommissioning of the Port Sudan refinery.

Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Sudan Parliament, Ali Mahmoud, has attributed the economic problems experienced by the country to “the government buying US Dollars from the black market for the purpose of buying oil. This led to the decrease of the Sudanese Pound and the rise in prices of consumer goods.”

Economic analyst Kamal Karrar foresees a lack of fuel and cooking gas during the refinery’s maintenance period. He attributes the looming crisis to the inability of the government to import the quantities of fuel needed to cover consumption, and the termination of services of qualified personnel in the energy sector.

He accused the authorities of corruption and pointed out that “the periodic maintenance dates for the refinery are not announced so that the necessary fuel reserves can be stored, the way most other countries do”.

He asserts that “the aim is to enable affiliates and brokers to store fuel so as to sell in the black market which will increase the burden on citizens”.

Periodic maintenance

MPs have earlier warned of a possible explosion of the El Jeili refinery as a result of overdue periodic maintenance.

MP Abdallah Abdel Rahman revealed that the Chinese company operating the Khartoum oil refinery has submitted letters to the government to provide workers and evacuate the area to face possible explosion of the refinery as a result of lapse of the period of periodic maintenance.

On Tuesday Oil State Minister, Saadeldin El Bushra, also warned against the political and economic impact should there be a major incident at the refinery.

He pointed out that the refinery's shutdown will cost the state about 17 shipments of petroleum products. Speaker of the Parliament, Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, announced the final withdrawal of a major Chinese oil company as a result of the accumulation of debt to the government.

He stressed the existence of a dispute between Sudan and China to settle the debts of Chinese companies investing in the oil sector.

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