Is There a Fuel Crisis in Baghdad? - 10.13.2008

VIDEO - Baghdad, Iraq – it’s well known that Iraq has one of the largest reserves of oil in the world, so it is quite ironic that the Iraqi people are constantly having problems obtaining various products produced from oil such as gasoline, propane, diesel, and kerosene. Furthermore, the prices of these products, when compared with the average income of an Iraqi citizen are barely affordable.

The average income of an Iraqi citizens is between $100 and $300 per month. The price of one liter of gasoline is 450 Iraqi Dinar, or approximately $.30. While on the black market the price of one liter of gasoline is nearly 1500 Iraqi Dinar or $1. These prices are not stable and depend on the current conditions, whether there is an oil crisis or electricity shortage. The prices could jump between 2000 and 5000 Iraqi Dinar, or between $1.50 and $4 per one liter. Reaching most any destination in Baghdad could cost you half to three quarters of your gas tank due to the large number of checkpoints, walls, and convoys causing traffic jams across the city.

Another side of the fuel crisis is the price of the diesel fuel that most of the neighborhood generators depend on. You can generate 5 amperes per month of electricity for approximately $150. However, 5 amperes are barely enough to power the fans, lights and some other simple household appliances. It is certainly not enough for turning on the water heater or air conditioner. The price is also dependent on the availability of diesel. One barrel of diesel that contains 200 liters costs approximately $200 and during a crisis or shortage, it could reach $400 and this is enough to fuel the neighborhood generators for only three days.

The minster of Oil Hussein al- Shahristani has blamed most of the problems regarding oil production and refining on the security situation and the lack of electricity. He has also specified that a part of the problem with lack of oil products is due to the lack of oil refineries. It has been a common occurrence in Iraq that the trucks transporting these products such as propane, gasoline, or diesel are regularly attacked by different militias and insurgents, due to the belief that the trucks are working for the US military.

As if these difficulties weren’t enough, gas stations have become particularly dangerous places themselves. Many stations have been attacked by car bombs, mortars, or gun fire. Normally the distribution centers for propane tanks are in the gas station, where people must wait for up to three hours to get one tank. If they decide to buy from the black market it will cost approximately 3000 Iraqi Dinar $2.50, and this tank is enough for just. one week.

In this week’s video from Iraq, Alive in Baghdad brings you some opinions about this problem that began in 2003, and has not yet been solved. Although not all Iraqis believe their is a fuel crisis, they share one question, “Is it reasonable for Iraq citizens to have a problem with electricity and gas while their country has one of the largest known oil reserves?

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