Saudi foils large-scale fuel smuggling bid

By AFP Published: December 17, 2015


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, whose subsidised fuel prices are among the world’s lowest, said on Thursday it foiled a large-scale attempt to illegally export diesel fuel.

Nine million litres (around two million gallons) of the fuel in 450 tankers “had been prepared at a number of locations” in Riyadh and the Eastern region before movement to Dammam port, the oil ministry said, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.

No details were given on the planned destination of the fuel, or whether any arrests were made.

The ministry said it was the largest attempt to smuggle diesel since it introduced technology to “mark” the fuel.

SPA said the large difference between the domestic and external price of fuel motivates such smuggling attempts.

Saudi petrol prices are the cheapest in the Gulf. Motorists in the kingdom can fill their tanks for around $6 (5.53 euros) for a sedan or $18 for an SUV.

Oil and gas-dependent Gulf economies are coping with plunging revenues after world crude prices fell by more than 60 percent since early last year.

Saudi neighbour the United Arab Emirates ended subsidies on fuel in July, in a move expected to conserve billions of dollars annually.

It raised the price of petrol but lowered pump prices of diesel.

In October, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the kingdom was considering raising domestic energy prices, but last month said his country is not in “dire need” to cut energy subsidies.