Emergency supply of diesel sent to Miri

Source : http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?fi … sec=nation

MIRI: An emergency supply of 350,000 litres of diesel was sent to northern Sarawak early yesterday as the fuel stock dried up following a sudden surge in demand here.

Oil-producing giants in Bintulu, 250km south of here, delivered the SOS stock from fuel depots via the Pan Borneo Highway to ensure enough stock to start the day.

The diesel supply ran out on Tuesday, some 48 hours before the new diesel quota for May could arrive.

The sudden dip in diesel stock caught the authorities and motorists by surprise.

Some 10 million litres of diesel stock are allotted for this city alone every month, an amount that is deemed huge and considered enough to cater to the population of 300,000 here.

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry Miri division chief Zakaria Awang said the diesel quota for the month of April ran out on April 28, two days before the May supply could arrive.

The shortage is temporary in nature. Some of the petrol stations had no more stock to sell, he said yesterday.

The emergency supply should be enough to meet the needs until the May quota comes.

Asked what had actually happened that caused the April quota to run out so fast, he said it was due to technical issues.

There was a surge in demand for diesel the past few days, possibly due to concerns that the fuel might run out and due to rumours of a fuel price hike.

When some petrol stations displayed notices saying that there was no more diesel, it prompted some motorists to resort to panic-buying at other stations.

Could it possibly be due to the sudden surge in diesel smuggling? The relevant dept should investigate and find out the real causes instead of just giving his own assumptions since these diesel is subsidized with the rakyat’s money. But then again, do we trust these govt agencies?

The ‘untouchable’ multi-millionaire diesel smuggler
Contributed by kasee
Sunday, 27 April 2008
The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Some are businessmen. Some are triad members. Some are politicians. But they
have a few similarities: they are politically-connected or enjoy the patronage of law enforcement agencies in their state or
districts and they head some of the biggest diesel smuggling syndicates in Malaysia.
On average, each of them earns up to RM50 million a year from diverting heavily subsidised diesel from petrol stations or
fishermen to factories and construction sites in Malaysia or to waiting barges and fishing boats headed for Thailand and
Philippines.

Over the past two years, the government has been paying between RM20 and RM30 billion in subsidies so that certain
categories of Malaysians can enjoy lower prices at the pump. But in reality much of the consignment of the subsidised
diesel has not reached their target market. In short, billions of ringgit in subsidies in being wasted on Malaysia’s
neighbours.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the Customs and other enforcement agencies have identified some of these big
diesel smugglers. They know that they are based near fishing areas, sea ports and border areas like Pantai Remis,
Malacca, Kuala Selangor, Prai and Bukit Kayu Hitam. A couple of the big operators are in East Malaysia. The use of
nanotechnology has even given the authorities the ability to pick out consignments of diesel being smuggled.
Still, the big players have been untouched by any enforcement action. The authorities have not acted against the
syndicates for several reasons. Some of the syndicate bosses have political patronage and have not been afraid to show
off their connections while others work “closely” with enforcement agencies officials in their areas. They have been
known to offer RM8,000 per tanker to officials at the checkpoints to Thailand.

Also, all of them have fierce reputations and are known to have bodyguards or own firearms. So enforcement officials are
wary of tangling with them.

The Insider has learnt that the use of nano markers has enabled the government to prevent about RM1 billion in
subsidised diesel from being smuggled out of the country or diverted to consumers not entitled to get the subsidies. But
this figure can easily hit RM5-RM10 billion if Customs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and police officials crack
down on the big syndicate bosses.

Typically, the syndicates buy subsidised diesel from fisherman at RM1.50 per litre, 50 sen more than what the fisherman
pays the government. They sell the smuggled diesel at RM2.30 per litre, 40 sen lower than the current market price of
diesel. After taking into account transport and other expenses, they make a profit of about 60 sen per litre.
Interestingly, the diesel purchased by fishermen has almost tripled in the last three years from 320 million litres to 1.2b
litres but without a corresponding increase in the fish haul. This suggests that many of the fishermen are selling their
consignment of subsidised diesel to syndicates. In view of the food security crisis affecting Malaysia, the trend of
fishermen not going out to sea is an alarming one.