Fuel operators: We might have to shut down

(stock photo)

(stock photo)


Tribune Staff Reporter


FUEL operators yesterday warned gas stations may have to shut down if prices do not stabilise soon, insisting they cannot wait months for this crisis to be resolved.

Vasco Bastian, vice president of the Bahamas Petroleum Dealers Association (BPDA), told The Tribune that retailers are nearing the breaking point and even likened the industry to a volcano that is ready to erupt any day.

The situation has become so serious, Mr Bastian said, that as a means to cut back on costs, some operators, including himself, have had to reduce staff hours.

And he warned that laying off staff may be unavoidable if the situation does not improve soon.

“We have to find a solution as a nation to resolve the gasoline crisis today because we cannot wait for another month or two months or three months to resolve this crisis,” he said.

“The petroleum dealers and the gasoline industry is a volcano that is waiting to erupt and the lava is right at the top and any day now that lava can burst through and gas stations in the country won’t be able to purchase fuel and do whatever they need to do.”

Fuel prices have soared globally since Russia, the world’s third largest oil producer, invaded Ukraine in late February.

Here in New Providence, the cost of gas has already surpassed the $6 mark. As of Friday, prices at the pumps in the capital were $6.13 at Rubis, $6.35 at Shell and $7.39 at Esso.

On the Family Islands, the cost of fuel at some stations has surpassed $7.

This comes amid mounting concerns that the number can rise as high as $8 later this summer.

Yesterday, Mr Bastian said if prices continue to increase, many petroleum dealers will find it difficult to remain open and service the Bahamian people.

“I pray to God that it doesn’t get to $8 and I’m not speaking $8 on the Bahamian people or this industry. We cannot take, right now, another increase in gasoline in this country,” he said.

“We cannot take it. If you see gasoline in The Bahamas go to $7.79 or $7.80 or $7.90 or $8, gas stations in the country will shut down. I’ll tell you that. If the gas prices increase more than what it is right now, ain’t nothing happening. I’m telling you because you wouldn’t even be able to afford to buy it. Remember now, if you track this and look back at the price of gas a year ago in this country, gas was under $6.

“We didn’t suffer this bad during the pandemic with the less hours and all the lockdowns. I mean some dealers, and I’ll say this for myself, we rather go back to that time in regard to operational hours compared to these times with these high prices.”

He went on to speak of some of the implications that face operators due to the cost of rising prices.

“In any industry, if the price of something continues to rise, one of the first things that individuals look at is reducing its operational costs or the staff complement and I’ve always been one not to preach that or promote that,” Mr Bastian continued. “But, as the price of fuel continues to rise, we need to ask ourselves the question, can we keep staff on? Can we be operable? Because at this point, we’re not profitable anymore. We’re just operating.”

Asked yesterday if operators were considering introducing self-service gas stations to help reduce operational costs, Mr Bastian said it was an option being discussed by retailers.

However, he said, a decision in that regard has not yet been made.

“Firstly, we would need to get the collective use of the entire association be that Shell dealers, Rubis dealers as well as Esso dealers to come together to say whether or not we will go to self-service. Self-service is an option,” he added.

“We probably could do one or two pumps at all gas stations self-service, that’s an option and we discuss at our various meetings with certain members. We haven’t had a meeting collectively with all recently to discuss that matter in depth, but I know one or two conversations that I have had with other dealers even besides other brands beside ESSO, that have been mentioned to me because I cannot say that’s going to happen unless there’s an agreement by all stakeholders, so that is an option.”

Government officials had said earlier that they were looking at several initiatives to bring relief to both gas operators and consumers.

However, nothing has been announced yet.

“I know they have been busy travelling and other stuff,” Mr Bastian said, “and hopefully they will get back to us soon so we can resolve this or come to some resolution to this crisis.

“So, we’re being patient and I believe that the Prime Minister cares about Bahamian businessmen and I even believe that Minister Michael Halkitis cares about businessmen, in particular at this time, gas station operators in this country.”


Maximilianotto 1 year, 3 months ago

So shut down. Nobody cares about businessmen. Government prefers 5-star traveling.


sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

If they shutdown, Snake will buy them up and put his logo on them. Then we all will suffer even more.


rodentos 1 year, 3 months ago

weird.... everywhere across Europe & US prices soared, people can not afford it but STILL gas stations and petroleum companies record ALL TIME HIGH profits! So what is going on in the Bahamas?

For your records: Prices for instance in Austria reached around $10 / Gal last month (about 2.40€/L).

Governments over there even thinking about extra taxes on these companies to skim some of these extra profits. Might it be that this is just bad talk of petroleum companies in the Bahamas to avoid the government even thinking of such extra taxes eh?


birdiestrachan 1 year, 3 months ago

What is it he wants what does travelling have to do with the matter it is good to showcase the face of the Bahamas and talk sense not .like doc who went all over calling

Our Bahamas corrupt why is the price off gas so different . .? c


birdiestrachan 1 year, 3 months ago

Rubis 6 13 Shell 6 , 35 Esso 7,39 x

Big difference


AnObserver 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm terribly confused. How does selling a product for more money result in less profits (or apparent losses?)

And the bigger picture question, is why does a gas station need so many employees? Everywhere else I go in the world there is a single person (at best) inside the gas station. Drive up, insert card, pump gas, leave. Why does every station have an employee per pump, plus one or two people inside taking payments? It isn't 1964 anymore.


M0J0 1 year, 3 months ago

Gas stations are only profiting, but want to be greedy due to everyone else raising prices. Greed kills many Bahamian businesses. They all want to sell one product and gain all they spent on 20.


M0J0 1 year, 3 months ago

I use Rubis as the benchmark, if it was soo bad why are they not raising the price. But I guess the owner is the only one with sense, the lower your cost the more the demand and ultimately the more money you make. I have never used Rubis but I surely am now.


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