BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 19, 2015–Belizean motorists whose vehicles use diesel fuel will have to contend with fuel rations at service stations for at least a few days more, as it has been reported today that the shipment of fuel which was expected to arrive from Petróleos de Venezuela, the state-owned supplier in Venezuela, may not arrive until next Tuesday.
We know of cases where service stations ran out of fuel today, but were replenished tonight, with instructions having been given to gas station attendants that only a maximum of $50 worth of diesel could be sold to each customer.
The crunch comes at a time of peak annual demand, and Puma, the fuel distributor in Belize, which also resumed importing premium fuel this year after Venezuela discontinued supply of premium to Belize in February, has been sourcing supplementary diesel via overland suppliers.
John Mencias, deputy chairman of Alba PetroCaribe Belize, the joint venture company which Belize and Venezuela had established to manage the PetroCaribe program, told News 5 that the tanker should be loading in Venezuela tonight, and if so, it should likely arrive in Belize early next week.
Mencias could not explain why the fuel shipment was late, and he surmised that it may be due to a problem at the refinery in Venezuela.
He also noted that Belize’s demand for diesel has skyrocketed by as much as 30% this month, outpacing the supplies currently available in the country and exacerbating the current diesel supply problems.
The economic implications of a continued shortage in diesel supply could be huge, with the productive sector and public transportation sector already feeling the pinch from supply constraints. A depletion of the country’s supply could freeze economic activity in key sectors of the economy – a problem which we understand Puma is trying to avert with stop-gap measures to bring an alternative supply online.