Fuel shortages continue at gas stations across northern governorates
A shortage of fuel supplies at gas stations in northern governorates continued to be reported throughout December, though the situation varied by governorate. The Yemen Petroleum Company’s (YPC) emergency plan introduced at the end of November remained in effect, limiting the number of fuel stations that could open, opening hours, and the quantity and frequency at which fuel could be purchased. Queues formed at fuel stations in some governorates during the month. Any impact on the humanitarian situation is as yet unclear.
Under the Emergency Plan in Sana’a City, there were 46 fuel stations open in the first week of December, 16 in the second week, and at one point in the third week of the month, only 3 fuel stations were open. Long queues formed at fuel stations during the month. After a fuel vessel transporting 29,475 metric tons (MT) of petrol was reported to have arrived at Al Hudaydah port on 24 December, the number of fuel stations operating in Sana’a City rose to 41, and 40 litres of petrol could be purchased for cars every 5 days, though queues for fuel persisted. The price of fuel on the unofficial market fluctuated between YER8,000 (about $13.33) and YER10,000 (about $16.66) for 20 litres of petrol during the month, compared with the official price of YER5,900 (about $9.83).
By mid-December, few official gas stations were operating across the Ibb hub area, the informal market had expanded and prices increased to YER10,000 for 20 litres in Ibb and Taizz governorates. By the end of the month, more fuel stations had been permitted to open and vehicles could be refilled with 30 litres of petrol every 5 days but, as in Sana’a City, queuing for fuel continued. In Al Hudaydah, all fuel stations were closed by mid-month and only a few stations remained open in Hajjah and Al Mahweet. However, by the month’s end, some fuel stations had re-opened, there was no queuing at petrol stations and fuel was available and easy to obtain. In general, the fuel crisis has had less impact in Sa’ada. Fuel has remained available through official fuel stations throughout the month with larger supplies available on the informal market, where prices fluctuated – at mid-month, fuel cost YER7,500 (about $12.5) for 20 litres in Sa’ada and Al Jawf. By the end of the month, fuel stations were operating and the YPC was providing further supplies when needed.
In terms of fuel imports to northern governorates, from mid-October, there was an increase in the number of fuel vessels allowed to dock at Al Hudaydah port and, according to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) 17 vessels discharged a total of 353,454 MT in fuel derivatives in October and November 2020 compared with 22 vessels that discharged 403,898 MT in fuel derivatives over the same period last year. However, the number of vessels discharging fuel derivatives at Al Hudaydah port fell in December 2020, when 4 vessels discharged 75,904 MT of fuel derivatives, in contrast with 9 vessels discharging 248,265 MT discharged in December 2019.