Fuel marking reduces smuggling by 15%
By Chamanlall Naipaul
February 21, 2004
SINCE the introduction of the fuel-marking scheme late last year, smuggling of the commodity has been reduced but still remains a significant problem.
This disclosure was made by Prime Minister Sam Hinds at a press conference yesterday at the Guyana Energy Authority (GEA) Headquarters in Quamina Street, where he was reporting on the second period of assessment since the introduction of fuel marking.
He pointed out that before the marking of legal fuel began smuggled fuel was about 20%-30%, that figure has now been reduced to an estimated 10%-15%.
During the first assessment phase 30% of the samples showed significant levels of admixture, this has reduced to 15% for the second phase, while 40% of the private and retail fuel sites had at least one tank with significant admixture.
The second phase has shown that the number of sites that had at least one tank with significant admixture is 28%.
"There has been significant improvement at the private sites. Despite improvements, Region 2 (Pomeroon/Supenaam) remains the region where the greatest delinquency is evident. The overall level of admixture has been reduced from some 20% to 10% over the period of assessment but this still unacceptable," the Prime Minister declared.
Hinds informed the media that because of the seriousness of the problem in Region 2 a full time team to monitor the situation there may have to be stationed there.
"Initially, samples were all analysed in the laboratory but now analytical inspectors have been trained and fitted with the appropriate instruments to perform on-site analysis. The presence of inspectors will be even greater in the coming weeks and sampling will be extended to the tanks of mobile and stationary equipment, cars, mini-buses, trucks, tractors and generating sets," the Prime Minister explained.
He added: "Meetings will be held shortly with the oil companies and site operators to inform them of the findings of the programme and to increase attention to those sites that continue to deal in smuggled fuel. Action will be taken against private sites and commercial sites operating illegally as well as irregular traders as their activities not only lead to loss of revenues to the Government but also provide unfair competition and deprive legitimate site owners of legitimate sales. Sites, operating legitimately will be issued with certificates of conformance."
Asked if action would be taken against those involved in illegal activity, Hinds responded in the affirmative noting that a small amendment to the existing law is before Parliament to confiscate on shore property being used to distribute illegal fuel. This amendment should be completed in another four to six weeks he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the GEA, Joseph O'Lall who shared the press conference with Hinds pointed out that those involved in the illegal fuel business will be issued with a "first and only" warning letter and if they fail to comply with the law they will be prosecuted.
He stressed that the law provides for stiff penalties including one to five million dollars in fines and three to five years in jail in addition to the confiscation of property.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon at one of his press briefings alluding to the negative impact smuggling of fuel has been having on revenue collection and the local economy disclosed that the illegal business is estimated to be in the vicinity of $6 billion annually.
Consequently, the firm BIOCODE was contracted to implement a fuel marking scheme in an effort to stamp out the illegal fuel business.