JOHANNESBURG - Cars, motorcycles and buses wrapped around Caracas’ gas stations earlier this week as oil production and refining becomes increasingly erratic in the former petro giant.
The fuel shortages have expanded across the country as Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s refineries run at the lowest rates seen this year amid a lack of crude oil and as Cardon, the country’s largest refinery, is still shut after an Oct. 15 blackout. In total, the state-run oil company’s five refineries are operating at less than a quarter of their capacity.
While the situation is nationwide, shortages tend to be less frequent in the capital, where the government is trying to prevent growing unrest. The gasoline lines are one more element adding to Venezuelans’ daily plight, which includes scarce basic goods amid hyperinflation, regular power outages and lack of public transport.
Despite the government’s efforts, a number of gas stations have closed in Caracas this week, forcing drivers to bounce between stations before forming in line at those still open for service.
Gas prices are still the among the cheapest in the world in Venezuela. The black market rate earlier this month was less than one cent per gallon. If you’re low on cash, pump attendants often accept snacks as payment. President Nicolas Maduro has yet to increase prices after vowing to do so at the end of September.
Venezuela’s Oil Ministry and PDVSA officials declined to comment.