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FUEL CRISIS

As queues return to gas stations, ministry asserts no shortage of gasoline

Some stations have closed their doors due to a delay in deliveries by one of the importing companies.

As queues return to gas stations, ministry asserts no shortage of gasoline

Gathering of cars in front of a gas station in Saida, in southern Lebanon, on June 18, 2022. (Credit: Mountasser Abdallah/OLJ)

The weekend triggered memories of the summer of 2021, with long lines forming in front of gas stations.

Faced with the rush to the pumps, the Ministry of Energy said Saturday night that there was no shortage of gasoline and denounced "rumors" about a total dollarization of fuel prices.

Since late last summer, the prices in Lebanese pounds of gasoline sold in Lebanon are set by the Ministry of Energy and Water according to the world oil prices on the one hand, and the exchange rate of the Sayrafa platform, managed by Banque du Liban on the other. However, on Friday, Georges Brax, spokesman for the union of gas station owners, said that the Lebanese authorities seem to be moving towards a new pricing mechanism that would eliminate the second variable.

This situation pushed thousands of motorists to fill up on Saturday. Queues were observed throughout the day, including in Saida, according to our correspondent in the region Mountasser Abdallah, and in the Metn, while some stations have closed their doors.

Ministry denial

Reacting in the evening to this phenomenon, the Ministry of Energy said it was due to "rumors” circulating about a shortage of gasoline or a dollarization of the price of gasoline. It immediately denied these rumors in a brief statement.

"Gasoline is available and there is no shortage," added the text, which asserted that the closure of some stations is due to "a delay in the delivery of products by one of the importing companies, pending the unloading of one of its ships.”

On Friday, Georges Brax told L'Orient-Le Jour that the prospect of a stop to subsidies on gasoline is not new, but that the decision has been delayed by "two months, at the request of the outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati."

BDL "can no longer subsidize" gasoline imports, the spokesman reported. Since late summer 2021, fuel importers have been sourcing dollars from the BDL at the Sayrafa rate, which is a few thousand lira lower than the parallel market rate (Sayrafa stood at LL24,900 to the dollar on Friday night, the last business day of the week, compared to LL28,300 on the parallel market this Sunday). This difference is considered to be a subsidy on gasoline while at the same time, the foreign exchange reserves of BDL are melting like snow in the sun. 

This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.


The weekend triggered memories of the summer of 2021, with long lines forming in front of gas stations.Faced with the rush to the pumps, the Ministry of Energy said Saturday night that there was no shortage of gasoline and denounced "rumors" about a total dollarization of fuel prices.Since late last summer, the prices in Lebanese pounds of gasoline sold in Lebanon are set by the Ministry of...