Sixteen provinces, over half of the Argentine territory, are short of gas oil endangering crop harvesting and preparing the soil for this year's wheat production, warned the Argentine Agrarian Federation, FAA which is planning a national stoppage to underline the seriousness of the situation.
"The lack of gas oil has extended to most farming provinces. In many of them it's not complete but significant enough to impede any undertaking", according to a survey from FAA. A weekend survey from the Argentine Rural Society among 230 delegates showed that 70% had problems obtaining gas oil for tractors and other equipment. "We've informed President Kirchner and the Energy Secretary Daniel Cameron of the situation and the president said he would apply the emergency supply bill, but we all know where the problem is: oil companies prefer to export rather than supply the domestic market", said Pablo Orsolini, FAA vice president. Orsolini added that farmers are "very concerned" over the lack of gas oil and in some areas where winter sowing is beginning "if fuel does not appear the situation is bound to worsen and camp won't need to organize a protest stoppage, they'll simply stop because of lack of fuel". "When beef exports were banned, it was to ensure domestic supply. The same happened with restrictions to dairy produce and flour exports, now it's time to apply the same medicine to the big oil companies", said Ulises Forte another FAA leader. Minister of Planning Julio De Vido said that inspectors from the Commerce and Fuels Department over the week end had begun to monitor distributors in different provinces and anticipated that those oil companies that do no comply with market demand will "be sanctioned". However another member from the FAA board claimed that in some areas fuel distributors and service stations are speculating and have hiked the price of gas oil "taking advantage of the shortage". Fuel prices in Argentina have been frozen for several years in spite of the increase in international markets, which makes it more tempting for oil companies to export than to supply the domestic market. Besides, companies have been reluctant to invest in increasing production given the current price situation.