Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oil ministry to open 50 24-hour gas stations in Baghdad

Above: A gas station in Baghdad, where long lines are common. The gas shortage in the oil-rich country has been exacerbated by the lack of electricity, causing those who can afford it to turn to generators which compete for the limited fuel supply in the country with the world's second-largest oil reserves.

Iraq's Oil Ministry will open 50 gas stations in Baghdad 24 hours a day as the fuel crisis worsens and the oil industry is unable to keep up with demand.

Iraqis wait for hours in line for gas that has skyrocketed in price since the 2003 invasion. Gas was subsidized, but that subsidy must be drawn down, according to terms of the economic structural adjustment program of the International Monetary Fund.

Issam Jihad, spokesman for the ministry, said the 50 stations would begin operating to ease the long lines at the pump, Al-Sabaah reports. He also said security at the stations would be increased as night falls.

McLatchy Newspapers reports licensed gas stations sell usually diluted gas for $1.22 a gallon -- 10 times the pre-war cost for a nation suffering from mass unemployment and violence. For more than $3 a gallon, consumers can purchase gas from the black market.

Read the rest at UPI