Liberia: Another Gas Shortage Looms

The Managing Director of Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company, Marie Urey Coleman Browne.

— LPRC says the current stockpile of gasoline in the 'country only for three weeks' 

Liberia could face another gas shortage anytime soon as the current stockpiles of products can only last for three weeks. 

This means by the first week of July, the country might be out of gas if another shipment of petroleum products does not arrive on time.  The news about the pending gas shortage, which is an early warning signal was made by the Managing Director of Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company, Marie Urey Coleman Browne when she appeared before a Senate ad-hoc committee that is investigating circumstances surrounding the importation and price of petroleum products.

Ms. Coleman Browne is claiming that the current supply of gasoline in the country can only last for at least three weeks, although she said work is being done to get more product ahead of time.  However, she did not state when that is expected to happen amidst the current shortage of petroleum products on the world market, and global soaring prices. 

“There is enough gasoline in the country that will last for at least three weeks,” Ms. Coleman Browne said. “Another shipment of Petroleum products is expected to arrive in the country shortly.”

Liberia’s primary energy source is petroleum. Russia, which has been heavily sanctioned because of its attack on Ukraine, is a major producer of the commodity. And if the Russia-Ukraine war continues, the continual increase in gas and diesel prices is inevitable. But what is uncertain is the timely arrival of the product, especially when the petroleum importers had earlier warned of global scarcity of the product and limited amount of stocks in the country.

It is also unclear whether importers would not delay the products coming to achieve their previous demand of a US$1 increase due to a surge in global price. Though such a goal was not achieved, they, however, forced the government earlier this month to slightly increase the overall price of petroleum products despite the government previously claiming they were not going to do so. 

But days of artificial shortage, created as part of the importers' demand, the government now moved to increase the pump price of gasoline and fuel by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively, which is slightly less than the March increase, which was at a whopping 26% for gasoline and 32% for fuel.

Currently, the wholesale price of gas per gallon is US$5.72 and while the pump price is set at US$5.90 (L$895). As for diesel (fuel), the wholesale price per gallon is US$6.72 while the pump price is US$ US$ 6.90 (L$1,050.). This means that filling up a gasoline car that takes 10 gallons now costs nearly US$60; more than what was paid just about a week ago, at the price of US$57.  For diesel vehicles, the price is even higher.

Previously, the wholesale price of gas per gallon was US$5.48 while the pump price was set at US$5.66. As for fuel, the wholesale price per gallon is US$5.82, while the pump price is US$6.00.

That June 9 increment was the second in two months. The increase has been blamed on the Russia and Ukraine war, which had led to petroleum prices soaring globally as the county’s bid to get hold of the products and keep their economy returning. 

Meanwhile, a Senate release said while the importers of petroleum products did not show up for the investigation, the committee would exert all efforts to engage all parties concerned to ascertain the causes of the problems. 

The Committee is also requesting the LPRC to submit all necessary documents to ease the investigation. The documents include the budget performance report, the current list of importers, monthly lifting of Petroleum products by each importer, Monthly importation, and its policy governing the importation of petroleum products, amongst others.