Petrol supply disruptions in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates may eventually come to Dubai as a major fuel retailer is rolling out a three-month upgrade of its network of ageing fuel dispensers in hundreds of pump stations in the emirate, XPRESS has learnt.
As fuel dispensers - the boxes to which the refuelling nozzles are attached - are knocked down one by one and replacements take time to come on stream, consumers have found themselves stuck in massive car jams at stations where petrol is available.
In Sharjah, angry motorists who continue to endure long queues at petrol pumps have decried the lack of prior warning or information.
Khalid Hadi, head of corporate communications at petrol retailer Enoc/Eppco, said: “We will start the upgrade in Dubai in another three to four weeks.”
While Hadi denied media reports about a fuel “shortage”, he said disruptions similar to the ones seen in Sharjah fuel pumps that may take place in Dubai can be minimised through information.
“There is no fuel shortage,” said Hadi. “We are doing this upgrade as fast as we could and any snags will be temporary. We’ve done all we could to inform the public through the media and all available means of communication about this upgrade job,” he said.
In April, Dubai-based oil retailer Emarat stopped selling petrol, attributing the shortage to a “logistics problem”.
“After years of use, the older system needs to be replaced with a better one,” said Hadi, who added the whole distribution network involves 170 pumps under the Eppco and Enoc brands.
As old dispensers are replaced, the new ones that use digital metering will have millilitre accuracy, explained Hadi.
“We are doing this in phases. Currently, more than 80 stations in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates are undergoing an upgrade, with some stations doing it gradually,” said Hadi.
Hadi declined to give the number of dispensers that will be changed, but each station has six to ten of them.
New dispensers will be installed in 84 Enoc/Eppco stations in Dubai, said Hadi. He added, however, that brand-new stations using the latest dispensers won’t be affected.
Residents decried the lack of information and the consequent panic.
Carol, a Sharjah resident who works in Dubai Media City, said she nearly ran out of fuel as she hopped from one station to another, and each time turned away by pump attendants or orange cones.
“It was scary. Thankfully, I managed to drive all the way to work with a yellow indicator on my dashboard telling me I’m dangerously low on fuel,” said Carol, who planned to fuel-up in Dubai.
But not Amer, another Sharjah resident, whose car was stalled after enduring a run-around for fuel in Sharjah. “This is frustrating,” said Amer, “they have not told people this is going to happen.”