Higher acquisition costs blamed By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News
April 8, 2002

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Many mini-bus operators were mulling an increase in passenger fares as the four authorised fuel dealers in the country last week upped gasoline and dieseline prices.

Stabroek News visited some of the petrol stations around the city on Friday and observed that Shell, Texaco, Esso and GUYOIL had put up signboards indicating increased fuel prices.

At Texaco, gasoline which was previously $320 per gallon jumped to $380, while dieseline moved from $268 to $313. And gasoline at Esso, Shell and GUYOIL is now $365 and diseline is pegged at $275. While Esso and GUYOIL had their gasoline priced at $315, Shell had been selling it at $316. Dieseline at Esso and Shell had been at $265 and at GUYOIL $255.

Meanwhile, employees attached to each station informed this newspaper that the prices were upped a few days ago but they could not say why. However, according to a reliable source, the higher prices follow an increase in the acquisition cost of the fuel which is being imported from Venezuela.

Some mini-bus operators on Friday insisted that if the increased prices in gasoline and dieseline stand, then they would be left no other option than to increase the fares. "We cannot afford to pay so much money for gas while passengers continue to travel and pay the same fare, something has to be done," one driver said.

Another operator plying route 40, Kitty/Campbellville, indicated that although he is the owner, many days he would find it difficult to meet his targeted earnings and his obligation to pay his conductor and maintain his vehicle. "The rise in gasoline price will cripple us bus drivers, I can't able to collect the same fare from passengers, something must be done soon."

There is a likelihood that the prices will drop very soon as that is the usual trend, according to a reliable source. Gasoline and dieseline prices fluctuate frequently, and whenever the procurement cost from Venezuela rises, dealers in Guyana usually increase their prices also.

Only recently vehicles and heavy-duty equipment owners were warned by GUYOIL about the circulation of cheap fuel that is being illegally imported and sold in the country.

The other three major fuel dealers who purchase their supplies through the Guyana Energy Authority (GEA) also shared that observation and acting upon several complaints GUYOIL responded with a newspaper notice which appeared in the Sunday Stabroek under the caption "Beware cheap fuel".

GUYOIL pointed out that the gasoline and dieseline do not meet the international specifications of the fuels that are legally imported. According to GUYOIL, the cheap fuels are lighter, different in colour and are contaminated with residues from drums used for storage and transportation. The company also maintained that cheap does not signal better quality. "This notice is in response to numerous complaints of high consumption rate per mile and in some instances damage to engines as a result of residue contamination after using the fuel. We can only advise you that you purchase your fuel needs from dealers affiliated to any of the four appointed importers of fuel under the GEA," the notice stated.

Meanwhile, an official at the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, told this newspaper that the GNBS does not have in its information unit the international specifications regarding fuel that is imported. The officer said that while GNBS monitors the accuracy with which fuel is measured and sold to customers at pump stations, it does not monitor for quality.

And Ken Figaro of Shell Antilles told Stabroek News in a telephone interview that his company and the other authorised fuel dealers purchase their fuel from the GEA which controls all legally imported. According to him, the fuel has to meet the standard set by the Guyana Government. He said there are many instances of illegal importation of fuel and he warned that because those importers are not abiding by the rules, one cannot be sure of the quality of the fuel. He said too that because of such illegal importation his company's sales had dropped and he opined that the other dealers have been similarly affected.