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Anxiety Grows Over Cuba’s Gas Shortages

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 1 April 2017 — Rumors of a general rise
in prices have sharpened shortages at gas stations this Saturday, with
long lines of vehicles waiting their turn at service stations across the
country.

The fuel sold at preferential prices for thousands of state employees
has gone up 0.10 CUC in recent hours, but the Cuba-Petroleum Union
(CUPET) maintains for the moment the prices for other customers: 1 CUC
For diesel and regular gasoline, and 1.20 for premium, which has been
missing for several days.

The most alarming rumors say that as of April 1 private users, except
those who have rented a car from a state agency, will only be able to
buy regular gas

With no official announcements, everything moves at the level of rumors
and conjectures. The most alarming rumors say that as of April 1 private
users, except those who have rented a car from a state agency, will only
be able to buy regular gas, and in no case can they buy special high
octane fuel.

“They told us there were regulations but we did not get any written
information or anything,” a gas station worker at 24th and 23rd in
Vedado told 14ymedio.

“There is no premium gasoline, not even for rental cars,” he says. The
rental cars are mainly used by foreign tourists and Cuban emigrants who
return to visit the country. “They must present the rental agreement in
order to buy the product,” says the employee, but “right now they will
have to buy regular gasoline because that is the only thing there is.”

In Havana, drivers come with jars and bottles and all kinds of
containers to store fuel. “Hard times are coming,” said Ricardo, a
private taxi driver who can’t get over his surprise. “When it finally
seemed that this country was going to be on track, then look what
happens,” he tells this newspaper while pointing out in the official
press the news coming from .

The driver spent six hours on Saturday in front of the Cupet service
station at the corner of 25th and G in Havana waiting to refuel. His
greatest fear is that there will be return to “those years of the
Special Period when all of Cuba was paralyzed by lack of fuel.”

The alliance with Venezuela, promoted since Hugo came to power in
1999, finally relieved the energy shortage on the island. Caracas has
been generous with the delivery of black gold to the island and in the
best moments delivered up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange
for medical services, sports coaches and a great deal of support from
Cuba’s state security forces advising and operating in Venezuela.

But the times have changed and analysts agree that the oil quota has
decreased by between 40% and 60%. This reduction negatively influenced
Cuba’s last year, with the GDP declining by 0.9%. The recession
awakens the worst ghosts of the economic crisis that followed the
collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

The national production of crude has also failed to take off. According
to data from Cupet, the country extracts some 4 million tons of heavy
oil, which is mainly used for electricity production

The national production of crude has also failed to take off. According
to data from Cupet – the state-owned fuel company – the country extracts
some 4 million tons of heavy oil, which is mainly used for electricity
production. Cupet estimates that crude oil reserves of about 20 billion
barrels exist in the Cuban Gulf of Mexico, although the US Geological
Survey suggests a lower figures.

The government expects that, by the year 2030, 24% of the country’s
energy will come from renewable sources, but first it needs new
infrastructure and the of foreign companies in the sector.

This Saturday, long lines of vehicles are waiting their turn in the
service stations all over the country. (14ymedio)
Hours before midnight on Friday the anguish grew among the drivers. The
service stations cut off sales to adjust the machines and to program the
new prices for the so-called “magnetic card affiliates,” a group of
state workers who receive the fuel at preferential prices among whom are
doctors and military.

The informal fuel market is supplied with the thousands of liters that
are diverted each day from those with “magnetic cards” and are resold to
other drivers. Authorities are trying to stop this flow and since March
31, it is forbidden for “affiliates” to carry a container for gasoline.

But the least of the problems is the rise of the privileged tariffs or
the deficit of premium gas, more expensive and therefore exclusive to a
few. What keeps the population on edge is that many gas stations are
totally empty, with no product for sale. “This is more and more like the
past,” Ricardo said minutes before getting his turn at that pump.

Source: Anxiety Grows Over Cuba’s Gas Shortages – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/anxiety-grows-over-cubas-gas-shortages/

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