June 20, 2021 | oil and gas

Drivers fuel up in Iraq as prices jump in Kurdistan Region


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Fuel price hikes in the Kurdistan Region have prompted drivers to fuel up in Iraqi provinces where prices are more stable. Devaluation of the dinar, taxes, and fuel monopolies are blamed for the high prices.

“It has affected every single person… we are honestly tired of this job,” Karzan Zrar, a taxi driver, told Rudaw on Saturday. “I refuel for 450 [Iraqi dinar per liter] in Mosul. Why is it cheap in Mosul? Fuel is sent to Mosul for 450 dinars [from the Kurdistan Region]. Why is it 700 here?”

As the costs go up, taxi drivers are making less. Drivers told Rudaw they are making less than half what they used to.

“Fuel is very expensive now. Fuel used to be 500-600. Yesterday it was 660, now it’s 725. Taxis make 15 to 20 [thousand dinars] a day. Now we have to pay 15 to 20 thousand for fuel,” another driver said. “I have many friends, taxi drivers, they either go to Prde for fuel or to Makhmour for 450.”

Prde (Altun Kupri) sub-district in Kirkuk province and Makhmour district lie within territories disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government.

Long lines of drivers from the Kurdistan Region are creating crowding at petrol stations in Mosul, Sherwan Dubardani, a member in the Iraqi parliament representing Mosul, previously told Rudaw. “A lot of people come to Nineveh to buy fuel, which costs 450 dinars. Cars line up for kilometers in front of many petrol stations in Mosul and some other areas in Nineveh province,” he said.

Fuel prices in Erbil on Saturday are 1,000 dinar per liter for super, and 720 for regular.

Taxi drivers in Sulaimani blocked roads earlier this month in protest over the fuel prices.

Kamal Atroshi, Kurdistan Region’s oil minister, will be invited to parliament to answer questions about fuel prices within the two weeks, Sarko Azad Galali, rapporteur of the Energy, Natural Resources, Commerce and Industry Committee in the Kurdish parliament, told Rudaw on Thursday.

According to Galali, Kurdistan Region refineries sell fuel to Iraq at 450 dinar per liter, while they sell it for 800 to 900 dinar in the Kurdistan Region. “The question is why are prices per liter so expensive in the Kurdistan Region, while in Iraq and the Kurdish areas [under Iraqi control] it’s 450 dinars and has stayed stable?” he asked in a recent Facebook post, accusing officials of using the dinar devaluation and rising oil prices as an excuse.

The vice chair of the committee, Gulizar Rashid, had previously told Rudaw that the dinar devaluation, higher oil prices, monopolies, and taxes were some of the reasons for high fuel prices.

'The monopolizing of fuel by a number of companies should not be allowed. Under the law, fuel import should be free to create competition. These foreign companies claim they are forced to raise prices because of the increase in taxes and customs fees charged them,” she said.

The KRG is working on tax reforms and preventing evasion by oil and gas companies. This has led to some companies ceasing imports and others resorting to smuggling, according to another member of the committee.

“Some of the companies that are importing gasoline have suspended their work following a council of ministers order to regulate the fuel market. At some border crossings, poor quality oil is still imported and fuel is being smuggled,” Rebwar Babkayi told Rudaw on Friday.

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