KUALA LUMPUR: If your neighbourhood petrol station has run out of fuel, head for the highways.
That is the advice of the Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia (PDAM) following complaints from some motorists that stations had been putting up "Sold Out" signs.
PDAM president Abdul Wahid Bidin, however, urged motorists not to panic as the shortage was confined to only about 100 stations in the peninsula. He blamed station owners for limiting their petrol orders because of recent uncertainty over fuel prices.
Wahid said fuel be supplied on high priority to stations by the highways before other areas are supplied.
"If the station near your housing area is dry, don't panic because there will be supply at stations along the highways," he said yesterday.
Wahid said the PDAM has been assured by oil companies that they will double their transport fleet to manage the fuel shortage.
Current supplies should last until the evening of the first day of Hari Raya, after which fresh supplies would be sent.
"Everything should get back to normal within a week."
Wahid said the shortage was at Shell, BHP, Petronas and Caltex stations in the Klang Valley, Johor and the east coast, with some stations running dry since Friday.
He said dealers had been reluctant to increase their stock beforehand because of speculation that fuel prices would be cut. (The government reduced the price of petrol and diesel by 10 sen a litre on Thursday.)
"Also in the week before Sept 24, people had only been buying small amounts.
"After Sept 25 when the prices came down, everyone suddenly started filling up leading to the shortage we have now," he said.
Wahid noted that had the dealers maintained an average stockpile of 200,000 litres a week before Thursday's 10 sen reduction, they would have lost some RM20,000.
Shell Malaysia media relations manager Cindy Lopez said a contingency plan was in place to "progressively restore supply" to affected stations.
"This remains our top priority. Our petrol stations will continue to remain open during the Hari Raya break," she said by e-mail.
It is understood that Shell stations are the worst hit, particularly in the Klang Valley.
Lopez stressed that Shell Malaysia Trading Sdn Bhd had always advised its retail dealers to hold a minimum stockpile of five-days' supply prior to any major festival.
"This (shortage) is an exceptional situation in which a pump price reduction was announced prior to a major festival.
"There were dealers who refused petrol supplies prior to the price cut in order for them to carry minimal stock and reduce their potential losses."
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