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While the National Petroleum Marketing Company (NP) has dispelled as 'rumours' claims of a fuel shutdown, some Unipet service stations across the country are without fuel.
Unipet's Chief Executive Office Dexter Riley told The Morning Brew that petroleum dealers across the market have been facing significant challenges over the past few years, which is affecting their ability to purchase gas to supply their customers.
Unipet subsequently issued a statement saying, "In an effort to reduce our operating costs, Unipet and some members of the Petroleum Dealers Association (PDA) cut back their operations today with gas stations scheduled to re-open on Wednesday 29th October at 6:00 am. This is in an attempt to trim operating costs which have been severely impinged by the Regulator not providing sustainable margins to the industry."
A sign at a Unipet service station in Santa Cruz.
The statement added: "Non-Unipet stations are able to approach the regulator to make up any shortfall in operating cost they may experience but as independent operators, there is no coverage for our shortfall and we are left with no option but to reduce our operations. We sincerely apologize to our customers but are left with no other options. The future viability of the liquid petroleum industry is in the hands of the regulator who has all the information with regard to the changes that are necessary to make the model sustainable."
Among the Unipet service stations affected today are Santa Cruz, Charlieville, Freeport, Cocorite, Chaguanas and Couva.
As a result, long lines have been forming at the NP service stations after NP assured yesterday that there would be no shutdown of its service stations.
“NP wishes to advise the public that our operations are running as normal and that we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that a continuous and reliable supply of fuel is delivered across the country,” the NP statement said.
Customers at an NP service station in Chaguanas.
It added: “In fact, as of today, 2019 October 28, the placing of orders for the purchase of all liquid fuel products continued unabated, with deliveries to service stations taking place today as scheduled, and others being scheduled for tomorrow, based on orders received from our dealers.”
The company insisted yesterday that there was no need for consumers to panic buy, saying this will only serve to cause fuel shortages at the pump.
Meanwhile, the Trinidad & Tobago Petroleum Dealers’ Association (PDA) said today that it fully supports the call for margins to be regularized in the Liquid Fuel Petroleum Sector.
"Most of our members operate gas stations with Supply Agreements with the Trinidad & Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NPMC). Under these agreements, NPMC Dealers are not permitted to close the sites. While we fully understand and support UNIPET’s attempts to have regularized margins, we expect that all gas stations will be under considerable strain for the duration of this action and ask the motoring public to understand the constraints under which we try to make fuel available to the public," the PDA statement said.
It added: "Daily, the Petroleum Dealers are faced with the financial limitations of operating with unsustainable margins. Our expenses are greater than our income and while we are continuously taking measures to reduce expenditure, the model itself is unsustainable. The situation is that we can no longer pay for fuel on delivery, so we are forced to take fuel only when we have the funds to pay for it. It means that sometimes we will not be able to supply product to our customers. It also means that some sites will be forced to reduce their operating hours and staff compliments. Most NPMC Dealers earn around $2.50 for every $100.00 fuel sale by cash, and around $1.10 for every $100.00 sale by electronic cards. From this, they are expected to pay all their operating expenses."
The PDA said that the issue of unsustainable retail and wholesale fuel margins is a legacy issue spanning decades.
"Four years ago, UNIPET, together with the downstream industry and independent researchers commissioned a scientific study and provided the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade with the report which recommended how a different model could be implemented to ensure sustainability of the industry. The Trinidad & Tobago Petroleum Dealers’ Association had made similar research available to the same parties over the past four (4) years. In 2017, the Minister of Finance granted a five cents increase in the margins while simultaneously increasing the price of fuel which led to an increase in the Business Levy and the Green Fund paid. The impact for UNIPET has been a severe impairment of their working capital and their ability to make timely payments for fuel from Paria Trading," it said.
The statement continued: "In addition, liftings done on weekends, after business hours and public holidays are associated with extremely high overtime cost charged by the terminal facility. Indeed, NPMC is faced with similar constraints. NPMC supplies fuel to 115 gas stations and operate a gantry / barge facility of their own. They must provide fuel to Tobago, the Airports and to the Ferries, together with their bunkering operations. In fact, to cope with their unsustainable margins, NPMC collects up to Five Cents out of the Dealers margins as rent, and even this is not enough for them to sustain their operations. It is a testament to the unsustainability of the current margins. The Chairman of NPMC recently admitted that NPMC supplies fuel to unprofitable and nonviable sites. It is instructive to note that NPMC does not actually operate any of their Sites, but contracts such operations to Petroleum Dealers, who provide the capital and manpower to do so."
The PDA claims that unlike other industries the petroleum industry is still rigidly controlled by the government.
"This means that we cannot increase margins, nor can we go to a cheaper source of supply. Despite continued representation to the relevant parties for a margin increase, there has been no response. We take seriously, our responsibility to the traveling public to provide safe and reliable gas and diesel but we simply cannot continue under the current pricing and tax structure. The simple solution to this problem is for the Regulator to implement adequate margins as recommended so that the industry can survive."
- Sampson Nanton
hydroep wrote:Gas business hard, yet men does be fighting to get gas station licence and others does want to commit suicide when they lorse it.
Something eh adding up...
Redman wrote:Its not NP-its the govt.
Unipet s only competitor is state run NP....thereby Unipet competes with its supplier.
Les Bain wrote:About an hour ago i passed the NP on Piarco Boulevard.
It was packed with panic buying feebs which obstructed not 1...but 2 fuel tankers from entering.
All the Unipet stations are supposed to reopen tomorrow. Just go where is convenientrmlmv wrote:This was bad timing for me as I was supposed to refill diesel this morning at my usual unipet station, but got blanked. Managed to get thru the day and back home. Any recommendations on where I can try to get diesel tonight? I have a feeling the NP stations will run out tonight. I'm from Freeport. Thanks in advance.
VexXx Dogg wrote:All the Unipet stations are supposed to reopen tomorrow. Just go where is convenientrmlmv wrote:This was bad timing for me as I was supposed to refill diesel this morning at my usual unipet station, but got blanked. Managed to get thru the day and back home. Any recommendations on where I can try to get diesel tonight? I have a feeling the NP stations will run out tonight. I'm from Freeport. Thanks in advance.
rmlmv wrote:VexXx Dogg wrote:All the Unipet stations are supposed to reopen tomorrow. Just go where is convenientrmlmv wrote:This was bad timing for me as I was supposed to refill diesel this morning at my usual unipet station, but got blanked. Managed to get thru the day and back home. Any recommendations on where I can try to get diesel tonight? I have a feeling the NP stations will run out tonight. I'm from Freeport. Thanks in advance.
Thanks. Hope they have the gas/diesel.
I pull up by the one in Aranguez around seven tonight. real traffic blocking the entrance ,cars like that but nothing by the diesel pump. I just go in the exit and pull up by the pump. Diesel right away. Men in the line see me and pull out to do the same thing. So they couldn't figure out that all the time?
rmlmv wrote:VexXx Dogg wrote:
Thanks. Hope they have the gas/diesel.
pugboy wrote:Well it look like they miscalculate the bluff
Seems they thought after a long weekend enough ppl would be on empty to cause most ppl to panic and grind things to a halt.
They prob need to close for 2-3 days to effect that