Sunday, July 13, 2008

Adnoc diesel card to ease congestion

Adnoc diesel card to ease congestion
Haneen Dajani and Matthew Chung

Last Updated: July 12. 2008 10:32PM UAE / July 12. 2008 6:32PM GMT

ABU DHABI // Only motorists with a pre-paid card will be allowed to buy diesel at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) stations, allowing the company to better control sales, it announced yesterday.

In addition to requiring customers filling up with diesel to use a Rahal card issued by the company, Adnoc said it had begun to restrict sales of the fuel for heavy vehicles to certain times of the day, increased the number of diesel pumps at some stations, and made stations on motorways outside the city centre specialise in supplying diesel to cut down on traffic congestion at its stations.

Lorry drivers have been flocking to Adnoc stations as its competitors, who buy at international market rates, have more than doubled their diesel prices.

The company did not say when it would stop serving customers who did not have a Rahal card. The announcement comes about a week after traffic police in the capital asked the company to introduce new procedures to ease congestion near its pumps because of an increase in accidents. A report by the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Department, viewed by The National, recommended that diesel not be sold to lorries and buses on the island between 7am and 9am, 1pm and 3pm, and 6pm and 9pm.

The Rahal cards are linked to the company’s main headquarters through an electronic system that will define how much diesel is required for each consumer.

Some drivers have said that they had purchased diesel from other drivers who were filling up beyond their needs and then reselling the fuel at a higher price.

Rahal cards will be issued at Adnoc’s main head quarters in Abu Dhabi and its offices in Al Ain, Western Region and Sharjah.

Diesel sales at many stations on Abu Dhabi Island had ceased, along with other services such as car washes and oil changes at some stations, to provide more space for fuel pumps, the company said.

Adnoc stations have been inundated with heavy vehicles since the price of diesel began to increase at Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), and Emarat and Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco) stations in Dubai and the northern Emirates.

Prices have reached Dh19.25 (US$5.24) per gallon, while Adnoc continues to sell diesel for Dh8.60 per gallon. Drivers say they spend hours waiting to buy a limited amount of fuel, and at stations selling diesel and petrol inside the island, traffic has been blocked by the long queues. Adnoc’s 49 petrol stations in the emirates of Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al Khaimah, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah are also seeing high levels of traffic. Adnoc stations in the northern Emirates stopped sales of diesel to lorries with Dubai licence plates last month, and police have been handing out fines to vehicles queuing in Sharjah.

The rise in the price of diesel has contributed to inflation by pushing up the cost of transporting food and daily commodities. Adnoc has more than 180 stations throughout the country and has plans to build more stations and expand its existing ones.

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