Rumours spread on social networks about a sharp rise in fuel prices and supply problems triggered large queues at fuel stations in Bulgaria on the night of March 2, reports said.
The queues formed at fuel stations in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia and several other cities and towns.
Bulgarian National Radio reported that many motorists wanted to refuel their cars “fearing that fuel prices will rise sharply soon – even after midnight – in view of the sharp rise in oil prices on world markets as a result of the war in Ukraine”.
Others feared that Russia’s war on Ukraine would disrupt oil supplies, including in Bulgaria, which would lead to a lack of sufficient supplies at fuel stations in the coming days, the report said.
Bulgarian National Radio said that in some fuel stations, motorists were being charged more than three leva a litre for diesel and petrol.
The report quoted fuel station employees as saying that Gazprom fuel stations were closed and LukOil was expected to stop importing fuel.
Bulgarian National Television said that one of the fuel stations in Karlovo had closed and at the other one, the price of diesel was already 3.16 leva a litre.
The report said that there were long queues of cars in Blagoevgrad, Kazanluk and Vratsa. In Vratsa, the price of petrol remained below three leva a litre.
The international E-79 road at Vratsa briefly was closed by a protest against increasing fuel prices, until police intervened to clear the blockage.
Protesters, who blocked the stretch between Vratsa and Mezdra in both directions, threatened to return on March 3, local media said.
There are no problems with fuel supplies in Bulgaria and no shock increase in prices is expected, the Bulgarian Petrol and Gas Association said, according to a March 2 report by Bulgarian National Radio.
The association’s Svetoslav Benchev told Bulgarian National Radio: “We have quantities available both in the excise warehouses and the refinery is working.
“There is raw material, there are finished products,” Benchev said.
“What is happening today is that people are panicking, which is completely unfounded.”
He said that the association had been saying for some days that there would be a trend of price appreciation, but by “a few stotinki”.
“I guess it will be the same in the coming days, but a shock appreciation is not expected, at least not at our sites,” Benchev said.
“I want to ask people not to stock up on fuel. Even if some places run out of fuel, which is quite possible, they will be supplied as soon as possible. The problems are purely logistical,” he said.
In a midnight message, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said that “for no reason, at the moment there is a panic about fuel”.
There was fuel and there was no chance that supplies would halt or run out, Petkov said.
He said that on March 3, he would call on the Consumer Protection Commission to investigate “who and how” was speculating about fuel.
For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, please click here.
(Photo: Ramzi Hashisho/freeimages.com)
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