Petrol shortage has motorists fuming

Operators for Enoc and Eppco try to upgrade fuel dispensers while maintaining services.

Sharjah , United Arab Emirates-  May  30, 2011:  Closed Eppco Gas Station near Tawun Mall in Sharjah . ( Satish Kumar / The National )
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SHARJAH // The temporary partial shutdowns of petrol stations in Sharjah, which have been going on for most of a week, are part of a plan to upgrade the dispensers at Enoc and Eppco stations over the next few months, officials said yesterday.

Only some dispensers at any given petrol station should be closed at a time, so that no station is shut down completely, said Khalid Hadi, the director of brand and corporate communications. Other services such as car washes and oil change centres remain open.

Mr Hadi said about 10 petrol stations would undergo upgrades at a time. The time each upgrade takes depends on the age of the equipment, he said.

"The dispensers are going through an upgrade," he said. "It's going to go on for some time."

The process started with the 41 stations in Sharjah - which should be finished within weeks - and will continue across the Northern Emirates, he said. Some nozzles in Dubai will also be updated, though most are new enough not to require it.

The Eppco station near Al Khan bridge has been without petrol for about three days, said a station attendant there. It was refuelled on Thursday but has not been since, he said.

"Every day we come hoping to work, only to find there is no fuel in the tank," he said. "We have no petrol or diesel, we all just come here to sit or sell these lubricants."

He said they had been given no information from their managers about the cause of the shortage. Speculation was common among employees, however, and most believed their jobs were at stake, he said.

Many motorists said the shortages worried them, too, and they headed to Emarat and Adnoc stations instead. Some said authorities needed to do a better job explaining the problem and when it might be solved.

"Strange things keep coming in Sharjah's summer," said Abdul Wahab Hassan, a resident and motorist. "Last year it was power cuts, and this year it is fuel shortages. But one thing is common: residents are always kept in dark about the realities of these crises."

Another driver, Ibrahim Murad, speaking at the Eppco station near Al Taawun Mall, was worried the available fuel in his car would not be enough to get him to the next petrol station.

"My fuel light is already on, and I can't think of a nearer petrol station from here," he said. "An option would be for me to go to Al Ittihad Road, but all stations there are either Eppco or Enoc. The nearest Emarat station from here is in the industrial area. I can't get there."

Altogether, Enoc and Eppco have 167 petrol stations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.