Sunday, 3 March 2024


Cuba import data casts doubt on official ‘fuel crisis’ explanation By Reuters

Cuba import data casts doubt on official 'fuel crisis' explanation

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People stand in line with their cars to fill up on fuel after Cuba’s government put off a five-fold increase in gasoline prices planned for February 1 due to a cyberattack, according to Economy Vice Minister Mildrey Granadillo, in Havana, Cuba

By Dave Sherwood and Marianna Parraga

HAVANA/HOUSTON (Reuters) – At a small cafe in the town of Bejucal outside of Havana, owner Germán Martín tries to organize his life and business around increasingly frequent blackouts. It is not easy.

Although occasional outages are a fact of life in Cuba, it has gotten worse lately, says Martin. Sometimes the power goes out for four hours, or six, unusual for a time of year when cooler weather normally means lower demand and fewer outages.

“You learn to adapt, but its uncomfortable and bothersome,” he said as he scrambled to prepare meals in the half-light.

Government officials blame a lack of fuel to feed thermoelectric power plants, a shortage that now affects nearly all facets of daily life on the communist-run island.

On Saturday, the government suspended all sports tournaments – including popular national baseball and soccer league games – until further notice, citing a lack of public transportation due to the “fuel crisis”.

Long lines have formed at gas stations, many of which have been without supplies for days.

And the country’s power grid is running deficits at times over one-third of total demand, leading to hours-long blackouts across much of the island.

The government says U.S. sanctions, which have for decades complicated financial transactions and the purchase of fuel by Cuba, have combined with an increasingly acute economic crisis to bring the fuel shortfall to a head.

But a Reuters tally of fuel bought by the Caribbean island and delivered to its ports suggests that a lack of supplies may be less of a problem than internal infrastructure and logistics issues.

Cuba’s economy demands about 125,000 barrels per day of fuels, including motor gasoline, diesel and fuel oil for electricity generation, according to the most recently available 2021 data from its Office of Statistical Information (ONEI).

Cuba has a steady domestic oil production of about 40,000 bpd that is mostly burned for power generation, and receives 56,000 bpd of crude and finished fuel from Venezuela, according to LSEG vessel monitoring data and documents from state company PDVSA.

Mexico, which last year became another source of oil and fuel for Cuba, supplies its…

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