Fuel stocks in the country are on the decline and motorists risk facing dry pumps if foreign exchange is not made available, industry sources have warned.
The sources confided in The Nation that the forecast did not look good.
In an interview yesterday, Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) general manager Martin Msimuko confirmed the forex challenges and appealed to commercial banks to urgently help the consortium of private sector oil marketing companies to ensure security of supplies.
He said the situation could lead to fuel scarcity in the coming weeks as they would not be importing enough in the country.
Msimuko said: “We request the banks to support us with forex urgently as without the foreign exchange we can’t bring adequate fuel in the country.”
But he allayed fears of a stockout during the New Year’s Day holiday weekend, saying there is fuel available and some was in transit in accordance with PIL’s plan.
Msimuko was responding to fears of a looming petrol scarcity in the country.
Industry sources said National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) was only keeping “bottomage stock” of petrol as at midday yesterday.
But in a separate interview yesterday, Nocma deputy chief executive officer Helen Buluma dismissed the petrol scarcity fears, saying there are adequate stocks available.
She said: “In as far as we are concerned there is no scarcity. So it’s either you listen to us or the reports that are going around. There is not going to be a crisis.”
Buluma said Malawians should refrain from creating false reports on fuel scarcity, stressing that there could be politics at play.
The fears come barely a week after Nocma, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) and PIL allayed fears of fuel shortage ahead of the festive season.
On December 23 2021, Mera board chairperson Leonard Chikadya said in a statement that the country’s major fuel importers have in place financial instruments to ensure fuel supplies continue to roll in to meet national requirements and demand.
Bankers Association of Malawi was not immediately available for comment yesterday.
But Financial Market Dealers Association president Maclwen Sikwese said there is need for authorities, including Reserve Bank of Malawi, to prioritise PIL to avoid straining the economy.
Currently, the country’s demand for fuel is 1.7 million litres per day from one million in 2015, according to Nocma.
In its edition of December 11 2021, our sister newspaper Weekend Nation reported that there was a potential fuel crisis looming following a decision by Nocma to change the fuel procurement system as a bank expected to bankroll the process grew cold feet.
Nocma and PIL each procures 50 percent of the country’s volumes.