Ukraine Under Severe Fuel Crunch Due to Russian Bombing
Consumption is down to just one-third of pre-war levels
Editor’s note: Russia is bombing refineries and fuel depots and blockading imports via sea. It has also been disrupting the railways somewhat. Situation is made worse by Ukraine’s price controls. Fuel trucks that could bring in fuel from Poland exist. Theoretically the crisis could be alleviated by hundreds and thousands of these trucks. However at the current government-mandated price importers of truck-transported diesel and gasoline couldn’t break even. It’s 2022 and virtue-signaling governments still pretend not to understand that price controls make shortages worse.
Source: Open for Business
Since the beginning of the war, the number of gas stations in Ukraine has decreased three times, and private fuel consumption has decreased by about the same amount, said Sergey Kuyun, director of the A-95 consulting group.
“According to our estimates, a third of the total number of gas stations is operating, this is about 2.5 thousand stations, before the war there were 7.5 thousand. Of course, the main reason is the lack of fuel. Consumption has also decreased three times compared to the pre-war level,” he said at a closed briefing at the Media Center in Lviv on Monday.
At the same time, Kuyun noted that traders or network owners are forced to provide their most strategic and powerful facilities, located mainly in regional centers or on main routes, while peripheral stations are forced to stand idle, although there are also a lot of consumers there.
According to him, the shortage of fuel became especially aggravated after the shutdown of the Kremenchug Oil Refinery as a result of a missile attack by Russian invaders.
“Many companies, especially in central, eastern and southern Ukraine, have lost their main source of supply for themselves. The only way out for them is to independently import through the western border. This is mainly about the fact that small regional companies go abroad with fuel trucks and bring fuel,” he explained.
At the same time, the state’s restriction of fuel prices and the high cost of delivery does not allow to activate this type of supply, the expert believes.
“This supply is very long, only 800 km can be traveled to the border. And the cost of this fuel is higher than the prices set by the government. Accordingly, they do not have any economy or at least a break-even level, and, accordingly, there is no motivation,” he said. director of “A-95”.
In his opinion, the way out of the situation could be a temporary waiver of state regulation, so that as many companies as possible could leave and bring fuel from abroad. However, there are no signals yet that the government is ready to take such steps, he noted.
“There are certain debates going on, let’s hope that we will wait for the right and necessary decisions,” Kuyun said, adding that the government is worried about prices in this case.
At the same time, he deemed the decision to significantly reduce taxes on fuel a positive, although still insufficient. “In fact, it abolished these taxes altogether, a very necessary step, but then we had a working Kremenchuk Oil Refinery. Now the situation has changed and requires new steps to fill the market. There can be no simple solutions in this situation,” the expert expressed his conviction.
As reported, in March, the Verkhovna Rada, at the initiative of the government, zeroed out the excise tax on fuel and lowered the VAT rate to 7% from 20%.
According to the government’s decision, the price of “premium fuel” cannot be more than 5% higher than the price of conventional fuel. As of the end of March, taking into account the marginal trade margins, the maximum price for “regular” gasoline for sale through a network of filling stations should not exceed UAH 33.53/liter, for “regular” diesel fuel – UAH 37.43/liter.
On April 2, the Russian invaders destroyed the infrastructure of the Kremenchug oil refinery with their shelling, and it stopped working.