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Argentines Queue for Fuel as FX Shortage Strands Tankers at Sea – Bloomberg

Traffic moves through 9 de Julio Avenue in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. , Photographer: Erica Canepa/Bloomberg
YPF has three ships stranded at sea due to the FX restrictions. Gasoline stations are informally rationing service at the pump. Traffic moves through 9 de Julio Avenue in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (Erica Canepa/Bloomberg)

Ignacio olivera Doll, Bloomberg News

EnergiesNet.com 10 26 2023

Drivers in Argentina are dealing with long lines at the pump and completely closed gas stations as the government’s dollar shortage strands ships at sea that are waiting to import fuel.

Scenes reminiscent of Venezuela in recent years have surfaced across Argentina recently with cars around the block attempting to fuel up at stations. Jorge Ferro, a 42-year-old consultant in Buenos Aires, tried to fill up his tank Wednesdsay at an Axion gas station in the wealthy Recoleta neighborhood, but attendants told him they were out of “super” and could only offer 4,000 pesos ($11) of premium gasoline.

“When I told them I was going to go to another station, he told me that all the nearby gas stations were closed,” Ferro said in a phone interview. 

The growing lines at the pump and darkened gas stations at night are tangible signs of a fiscal crisis spiraling out of control. Argentina’s central bank is running out of dollars to pay importers, with inflation near 140% and a recession looming. State-run energy giant YPF has three tankers waiting with gas and diesel for import, but can’t offload the fuel until foreign suppliers BP Plc and Gunvor are paid, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

YPF and Gunvor declined to comment. BP Plc didn’t respond to a request for comment. Two of the three ships, named Pacific Blue and NCC Nasma, are anchored in the Rio de Plata closer to Uruguay’s coast, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. YPF imported 6% of its gas for cars in the second quarter of this year, according to its most recent earnings call.

Election uncertainty is another big driver behind commuters’ headache. Before the Oct. 22 general election, some gas stations suspended sales as customers tried to stock up on gas, fearing a sharp currency devaluation that looks delayed for now. Economy Minister Sergio Massa faces off against outsider candidate Javier Milei in the definitive runoff vote on Nov. 19. Even after the vote, some stations say they’re entirely tapped out.

Translation: Salta without gasoline, Salta residents in search of gasoline in the city of Salta. The lack of gasoline supply is felt again Wednesday afternoon, at this time, gas stations from all brands don’t have gasoline

Argentina’s dollar scarcity is leaving YPF unable to pay for gas imports for now. The retained cargo has a volume of 120,000 cubic meters, which represents 7% of monthly gasoline sales in the country, or about $150 million, one person said. Argentina doesn’t have access to international capital and is struggling to comply with a $44 billion agreement with the International Monetary Fund, its only major source of financing.

Fuel supply is also pressured by regulation: gasoline prices are fixed until October 31, while a fuel liter at the pump goes for about 40 cents in Argentina, the lowest level in Latin America behind Venezuela and Ecuador, one person said. Argentina imports 32% of its fuel: 20% of its diesel and 12% of its super gasoline. The problem has been worsening for a week and especially in the provinces further away from the nation’s capital.

–With assistance from Jonathan Gilbert.

bloomberg.com 10 26 2023

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