THE FUEL shortage causing chaos in south Trinidad since Monday is the result of panic-buying motorists crowding service stations and sucking the storage tanks dry.
Ronald Milford, chief executive officer of United Independent Petroleum Marketing Co Limited (Unipet), suggested yesterday that motorists not rush to service stations, because tankers were resupplying regularly.
He said that the fuel shortage being alleged by Oilfields Workers Trace Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget was not accurate.
On Monday, service stations between Mayaro and San Fernando began running out of diesel and gasoline after media reports that employees of Petrotrin had taken industrial action, causing the closure of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and the bond, a facility where the fuel is pumped onto supply trucks.
On Monday afternoon, Roget held a press conference to say that all Petrotrin operations were shut down by employees who began industrial action last Friday to protest unfilled vacancies, to demand variable pay, and over concerns about the award of a bunkering contract. A meeting is scheduled between the OTWU and Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine in Port of Spain today.
Ramnarine has, in the meantime, taken to the social networking site Facebook seeking information on service stations running out of fuel and directing tankers to refuel the stations.
Milford said that Unipet tankers received fuel from Petrotrin yesterday and would work through the night to supply service stations.
He said: "We got fuel yesterday from Petrotrin. But we wish people will stop panic buying, it is causing the congestion. We have fuel...we have sufficient fuel."
There were lines leading to some service stations in San Fernando early yesterday but, by afternoon, the tankers had resupplied the stations.
Rick Hinkson, manager of the Charlotte Street Service Station in Port of Spain, said it was business as usual.
He said he ordered fuel only when necessary and did not see a delay in the supply so far.
"A truck just came and delivered fuel. There is no delay in supply, because we order only when necessary. This morning (yesterday) had a small pile up of vehicles, but you know how Trinis are…" said Hinkson.