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Hoarding, Truckers Strike Caused Iraq Gas Shortage

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2003 – Black marketers, hoarding, and a recently-ended transportation strike combined to cause a shortage of gasoline in some areas of Iraq, a senior Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman told reporters at a Dec. 8 Baghdad press briefing.

Senior CPA advisor Daniel Senor noted that a two-day strike by Turkish truckers who deliver petroleum products south from a northern Iraqi refinery to the cities of Mosul and Baghdad "caused an enormous shortage in Mosul."

However, that strike has ended, Senor said. "So the supply (of gasoline) has kicked in again, and we are continuing to monitor that situation." About 3.5 million liters of gas was recently trucked into Mosul, he noted.

Senor acknowledged that Baghdad residents have also experienced long waits for gasoline at local service stations.

"We are taking a number of steps to work on that," he said, noting that some Baghdad gas stations would stay open around-the-clock while others would operate under extended hours to distribute gasoline to Iraqi consumers.

Senor said U.S. and coalition officials are also dealing with the "black market issue and the hoarding" of gasoline in Iraq. "It will take a little time to work it out," he said.

The good news, Senor said, is that the supply of gasoline in Iraq currently outstrips the demand.

He said nearly a quarter-million new vehicles have arrived in Iraq since the demise of the Hussein regime. "There's just a lot more demand" for gasoline in Iraq "than there was before," he pointed out.

Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Coalition Joint Task Force 7, told reporters in Baghdad Dec. 7 that insurgent attacks on Iraqi oil pipelines weren't "the key cause" of gas shortages in the country.

"It's been an availability and distribution challenge that we faced," Sanchez explained.

"We're in the process of correcting that," he said.

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