Uruguay's Energy Minister Elisa Facio said Monday that there would be no fuel shortage in the South American country despite a stoppage in the distribution chain.
”Unfortunately we did not reach an agreement, we have been meeting since 5:30 p.m. (until after 8:30 p.m.), we talked a lot, each one could present their position and their vision on the subject, but when the time came to reach an agreement we did not reach it,” said Facio after talks with the Association of Fuel Transporters (ATC) in Montevideo.
The ATC stopped supplying gas stations as of Monday following the Government's decision to terminate the state-run Ancap's partnership with transport companies in charge of retail distribution effective Dec. 31. The current measure aims at forcing a negotiation table.
Although today we did not reach an agreement, we are always open to dialogue, insisted Facio, who has been on her post for little over a week after a major cabinet reshuffle. She replaced Omar Paganini, who took over as head of Foreign Affairs. Facio had headed the ministry's general secretariat until earlier this month.
We want to guarantee the population that there will be fuel supply, there will be no shortage, we are not going to reach a breakdown situation. There is not a general lack of fuel, it is lacking in some stations, but the crisis had not spread. The situation may worsen, but we hope it does not reach that point, she added.
Despite Facio's general optimism, fuel transporters said an agreement was nowhere in sight. ATC Lawyer Robert Batista said that they had a first meeting of rapprochement, it is good to be able to sit down to talk, but we are a little far apart.
The ATC intends that the government extends the current situation in order to generate an atmosphere of dialogue and discussion, maintaining the fuel transport permits, he added. Batista admitted the Ministry was open to dialogue but passing the issue on to retailers, which is something we do not agree with.
According to Uruguayan media, the fuel shortage was already felt as drivers poured into petrol stations to tank up since late Sunday, thus increasing demand.
From the Unión de Vendedores de Nafta del Uruguay (UNVENU), Federico de Castro called for dialogue and the search for solutions We hope that it will be solved as soon as possible he said as stock ruptures were already being felt. If the crisis is not solved by Wednesday, it will be a very, very, very, very complex situation,” he added.
Petrol station owners have warned customers that, even if the measure is lifted, they may not be able to have fuel to sell until Friday.