Mon, 27 Aug 2001

Diesel fuel crisis hits Central Java, Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): A shortage in supplies of diesel fuel is being experienced again in parts of Java but state oil company Pertamina insisted on Saturday that the supply was sufficient for the next three weeks.

Pertamina suspects that the problem lies in the transportation system which is controlled by the private sector.

This time the hardest hit by the shortage is Central Java. In Jakarta, an undersupply of diesel fuel has been reported in West and East Jakarta.

Dozens of gasoline stations in Banyumas and Pemalang regencies put up the sign Solar habis (Diesel out) at their entrances. Station owners said their supply had been slashed by half.

Bus and truck drivers reported that they had to travel great distances to get the fuel. Roadside fuel sellers were also at a loss as to why the commodity had disappeared.

Santoso, a gasoline station manager in Purbalingga said that before the latest shortage, he would receive 32,000 liters of diesel fuel a day. "Today, we get only half of that. The supply comes at 12 p.m. and the next supply comes at about the same time the following day."

Santosa has experienced this shortage in supply since the beginning of the month and he was told that Pertamina had cut the supply.

Hiswana Migas, Pertamina's partner which distributes the fuel to agents, confirmed the reduction in supply from Pertamina.

"The policy is needed, otherwise most of the fuel would be bought by the industrial sector," said Anas Pribadi, deputy chairman of Hiswana Migas of Banyumas.

The government has set the diesel fuel price at Rp 1,190 per liter for industrial purposes and Rp 900 for private use. The industrial price is half the international price and is subject to regular review.

The local Pertamina spokesman based in Cilacap Husni Banser told The Jakarta Post that Pertamina maintained its diesel fuel production at 1.8 million barrels this month.

"There is no cut in production," he said.

The limitation in supply has also badly affected gasoline stations along the busy north coast highways, the backbone of transportation routes in Java. Long queues of trucks and cars at gasoline stations have become a common sight.

In Jakarta, the shortage of diesel fuel has been reported over the past two days. "The supply comes once every two days," said a gasoline pump attendant on Jl. Panjang, West Jakarta.

The crisis has, as of Saturday, not caused serious traffic jams due to the long queues of vehicles in gasoline stations in Jakarta.

Tuti Anggraeni, manager of Pertamina's home supply and marketing, said in Jakarta there was no problem with supply as far as Pertamina was concerned.

Pertamina spokesman Adiatma Sardjito had a different version. He said the existing supply was enough for the next 23 days. Fuel in Greater Jakarta is supplied from Balongan refinery plant in Indramayu, West Java, from Lampung and from abroad.

"The reason (for the scarcity in Jakarta) could be either in the transportation system, which is controlled by the private sector, or due to factories buying their fuel at gasoline stations (which is prohibited)," he said. (45/iwa/pan)