Yemeni trader denies fueling generators until repaid, blackouts increase

Aden (Debriefer)
2019-08-21 | Since 4 Year

Aden City

اضغط هنا لقراءة الخبر بالعربية

Hours of blackouts have doubled in the Yemeni southern port city of Aden during the last three days, peaking on Tuesday, following lack of diesel and fuel oil, furthering public resentment in the interim seat of the internationally-recognized government.

"Electricity service is seeing a collapse," government sources in Aden told Debriefer Wednesday, leading to "19-hour blackout a day, although power cuts had been kept at 8 hours a day after the Southern Transitional Council (STC) seizure on August 10," sources added.

"Fuel allocated for power plants has been reduced, causing an increase in blackouts," they said, noting that Ahmed al-Eisei, the only supplier of oil derivatives, has "denied a tanker anchored at Aden port to discharge the oil into Aden Refinery (AR) company's reservoirs, claiming a US$200-million debt to be repaid by the official government."

On Monday, the public electricity corporation in Aden called upon government authorities to help Aden avoid full darkness, as AR running out of fuel reserves.

"Efforts have been exerted for intervention to bring about an urgent settlement and persuade the supplier to unload the tanker," Aden electricity office said in a release.

Problem to be Solved Soon

An official at AR talked Tuesday about positive signs for the fuel shortage to be dispelled.

"A vessel is expected to arrive at the AR oil quay in the coming hours, with huge quantities of diesel onboard," said AR media officer on Facebook.

Once the tanker is anchored, AR will discharge the oil into its tanks and, immediately, pump fuel through the Yemeni Petroleum Company (YPC) to power plants, which would resume operation as soon as possible, Nasser Shief added.

While Shief gave no details on the load, the vessel bound to the port contains some 67,000 metric tons of diesel.

On 6 August, AR company advertised a public bid for purchasing 102,000 tons of fuel (67,000-ton diesel and 35,000-ton gas oil) to cope with shortage in power generation.

Power plants in Aden and neighboring governorates get out service whenever Eisei rejects to supply the legitimate government with fuel, for overdue debts.

Despite its liberation from Houthis in July 2015, Aden has been suffering public anger at persistently deteriorating conditions and basic services, mainly fuel, power, water and communications.

However, observers and locals in Aden say, fuel shortage this time comes as part of political pressures exercised by parties at the government, plagued by huge corruption, in an attempt to provoke the public against the STC.

On August 10, the Emirati-backed separatist STC's forces seized full control over Aden, following violent clashes with official army that left 40 people killed and 260 others injured, according to UN release seizure of Aden.

The Yemeni legitimate government dismissed the STC seizure as another coup in Aden, following the Houthi coup in Sana'a, holding the UAE and STC responsible for ramifications.

Monopoly by Eisei and President Office

Aden blackouts confirm charges against the influential businessman Eisei of appropriating public institutions including Aden Refinery company, function of which he has limited to storing of oil derivatives after he was given the monopoly of their  importation.

Last June, Yemen's government decided to have the importation of oil derivatives in all governorates to AR, but the decision has yet to be carried out, with director of the President's office, Abdullah al-Alimi, accused of enabling his deputy for economic affairs, Eisei, to appropriate public agencies.

Yemeni writer Ahmed Harmal has attacked President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his "corrupt office".

"Oil importation bids are always won by Hadi's office, namely Ahmed al-Eisei," Harmal said Monday on Facebook. "Eisei is a partner of Hadi, his son Jalal and Abdullah al-Alimi. So don't wrong Eisei, as he's one of four corrupt" people.

Calls for Immediately Ending Monopoly

Social media activists in southern areas have increasingly condemned Eisei persistent control over a commodity most needed by people.

Eisei monopoly on fuel importation in Aden and other government-held areas is the first of its kind in the world, as the government has handed the country's most important economic and financial resource to private sector.

Oil market has been freed following Hadi government's reluctance to pay the fuel bill in hard money, as the government-run two (YPC and AR) companies have stopped importing oil and been turned into storage facilities for Eisei.

Debriefer Investigation

On 13 August 2018, a Debriefer investigation revealed the YPC "buys oil and fuel of various kinds from the Eisei-owned 'Arab Gulf' company, which monopolizes the process of importing fuel in Aden and other provinces and areas under the control of the Yemeni internationally recognized government.

"Eisei company has controlled the AR and YPC that now, under Hadi's decree, purchases oil derivatives from Arab Gulf and sells them in prices decided by Eisei," officials at YPC told Debriefer then.

The YPC "continues to buy about three million dollars a month from local exchange companies at the current price, in order to buy fuel from the Eisei company, which still insists on receiving the amounts of fuel in hard currency. This forces the YPC to buy the dollar from the market, in excess of one billion riyals from the official price set by the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) at 480 riyals for one dollar, to pay the value of fuel to Eisei, causing a dire continuous lack of hard currency in the market and contributing to the decrease in local value of rial against dollar, sources added."

In mid-December, the French newspaper Le Monde highlighted the role of Yemen's 51-year-old businessman Eisei in political and economic life of Yemen, a poor country that has been racked by an armed conflict between the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Saudi-backed government triggering the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, with more than 22 million people in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 8.4 million people unsure how to get next meal, and some 2 million children suffering severe shortage of nutrition.

The newspaper said the situation provoked angry responses in Aden, as  the businessman accused of keeping the old Soviet refinery he controls in the city nonfunctioning, in order to continue selling fuel to private generators in Aden, leading to a significant shortage.

The newspaper pointed out that Eisei controls AR company and became the top hand in issuing republican decisions related to the officials of this giant company, which was founded in the early fifties of the last century, as the first company to refine crude oil in the Arabian Peninsula.

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