According to a report, there is hardly any fuel left at petrol stations in several regions of Russia. The Russian media find a wide variety of explanations for this – especially in the immediate vicinity of Ukraine, motorists, farmers and freight forwarders are stranded.
This article first appeared on ntv.de
Russia is a commodity powerhouse. Since the beginning of the war, the country of President Vladimir Putin has earned 410 billion euros from oil and gas exports, despite sanctions, according to the Center for Research into Energy and Clean Air (CREA) in Finland.
But while China, India and Turkey are still boldly accessing the Russian raw materials bazaar, SOS is being radioed from domestic gas pumps: “There are reports of a fuel shortage at gas stations in several regions,” headlined the Russian daily Isvestia a few days ago. The report says the petrol has disappeared from several gas stations.
Fuel shortages in Russia since July
It is amazing where the problems are acute: According to the report, the gas pumps are currently on strike particularly often in southern regions such as the annexed Crimea and the neighboring Krasnodar Oblast – and have been for quite a while: In July, according to “Izvestia”, there were strikes in those affected Regions no longer have petrol with 95 octane at many petrol stations. In the meantime, petrol with 92 octane and diesel are said to be scarce.
Unusual for a country that has practically never done anything other than exploit its fossil fuels. Especially when you read the explanations: In the report, industry representatives blame significantly longer transport times on the rails for the lack of supply. Accordingly, freight trains loaded with oil products in resource-rich central Russia often take several weeks longer than usual to reach the affected regions in the south of the country.
The “Isvestia” can substantiate the information: Compared to the previous year, the transport time has doubled. A third of all commercial petrol for service stations is said to be currently stuck on rail.
“Seasonal Tourist Overload”
Anyone who has followed the Russian attack on Ukraine in recent weeks has an idea of what the core of the problem could be: For several weeks now, the Ukrainian army has been targeting Russian ammunition depots and important transport links towards the front in order to cut Russian troops off from vital supplies .
But far from it, broken bridges and destroyed tracks in and around the occupied areas are by no means held responsible for the fuel shortage in “Izvestia”. In fact, they are not even mentioned, because a completely different “bouquet” of problems is responsible for the difficulties: the tracks of the Russian railways are overloaded because coal exports have to be diverted as a result of the sanctions, the fuel associations explain in the newspaper. In addition, the transport routes have generally become longer. Maintenance and repair work is also being carried out at some refineries, it is said. Last but not least, the Russian railways were overwhelmed by “seasonal tourist demand”.
It is difficult to judge how credible these very different statements are. Doubts are justified, however, because in the affected regions not only motorists have been complaining about the lack of supplies, but also Russian troops have been complaining regularly for many weeks. It is hard to imagine that their deliveries would have to take a backseat to excursion trains.
A video from the Crimea also paints a different picture than the Russian fuel association: it shows a freight depot in the capital Simferopol, in which rows of trains with dozens of tank wagons have been “parked” because, according to the video description, they are currently unable to leave the peninsula. The huge boilers are actually supposed to transport fuel and lubricants.
The prices are also increasing
Whatever the cause of the fuel shortage, the damage in Russia has been done. Not just for car drivers, but also for farmers who have to harvest and sow with heavy equipment, and for truck drivers who can’t get anywhere without diesel.
A solution must therefore be found as soon as possible, but the regions cannot conjure it up: in addition to Crimea and the Krasnodar region, the southern Astrakhan Oblast is also affected. From there it was said that the filling stations should fully resume their work by the end of the month. In its latest update, however, “Isvestia” reports that, despite the repairs being completed, there has been no improvement so far.
The situation in Krasnodar remains critical. According to the report, substitute fuel is sourced there from neighboring regions. But that leads to a new problem: Due to the increasing demand, the prices are also increasing. A farm official says in the newspaper that diesel prices have risen by 25 percent since May. Russian freight forwarders report that in the past week alone the price has increased by ten percent at some gas stations. Like the Ministry of Agriculture, they are therefore demanding state support and a cap on the price of diesel.
invasion by Russia
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It’s amazing how quickly the situation can change: almost a year and a half ago, Vladimir Putin launched his murderous attack on Ukraine and tried to force Europe to look on with his gas supplies. When that failed, he tried to force Ukraine to surrender with countless rocket attacks on energy systems, grain elevators and ports. But in the end it is the gas station with nuclear weapons that no longer has diesel for tractors and trucks.