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    Hit by Venezuela shortage, Cuba to restrict premium gasoline sales

    Hit by Venezuela shortage, Cuba to restrict premium gasoline sales
    By REUTERS
    PUBLISHED: 00:03 BST, 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 00:03 BST, 31 March 2017
    By Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta

    HAVANA, March 30 (Reuters) – Cuba will stop selling premium grade
    gasoline except to tourists starting Saturday due to a fuel crunch
    affecting Venezuela, its oil-rich ally and key trading partner.

    Cuba’s leadership has yet to announce the measure publicly, but a
    government source confirmed the contents of an official memo that has
    circulated on social media outlets this week.

    The memo has already been “sent by official means to those implicated,”
    said the source, who was unauthorized to speak to about the matter and
    requested anonymity.

    Cuba has become increasingly reliant on Venezuela for refined oil
    products, even as the latter wrestles with shortages of those products
    at home. Last week, Venezuela faced its first nationwide shortage of
    motor fuel in five years.

    The OPEC nation has one of the world’s largest crude reserves but must
    import components for motor fuels and products crucial to dilute its
    extra heavy oil. Payment delays to providers have delayed deliveries.

    Cuba cannot easily replace Venezuelan supplies as these are subsidized
    and the Communist-ruled island is strapped for cash.

    Most vehicles in Cuba, including its vintage American cars and
    Soviet-era Ladas, use regular fuel. But modern cars, belonging to state
    and joint ventures as well as diplomats and other foreigners, run on
    higher-octane, so-called special fuel or premium.

    “CUPET will not be delivering special fuel throughout April,” said the
    memo, circulating on social media.

    “The special fuel remaining in stock at the gas stations from April 1
    will only be sold … to tourists, until the inventory is depleted,”
    added the memo, using the acronym of the state oil monopoly CubaPetroleo.

    One diplomat based in Havana said embassy workers had been advised to
    stock up on special fuel now and to carpool.

    “Special fuel is going to disappear,” said Victor, a worker at a gas
    station in the business district of Vedado. “We have a small reserve
    left, but we aren’t supplying any.”

    The government memo suggested motorists replace premium with regular
    grade fuel. But a worker at a joint venture, which received the memo
    through official channels, said an auto service provider had recommended
    against using regular in its Mercedes-Benz cars.

    “It is bad for the engines,” she said. “But what can you do, if there is
    no special fuel?” (Additional Reporting by Marc Frank in Havana and
    Marianna Parraga in Houston)

    Source: Hit by Venezuela shortage, Cuba to restrict premium gasoline
    sales | Daily Mail Online –
    www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4366410/Hit-Venezuela-shortage-Cuba-restrict-premium-gasoline-sales.html

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