Ukrainian truckers are filling up with gas in Poland so it can be siphoned, shared with others - report

Business Insider US
Volunteers unload humanitarian aid from a truck in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.
  • Truckers in Ukraine are struggling to get hold of fuel amid a national shortage.
  • Some are reportedly filling up with gas in Poland and siphoning it off in Ukraine for use by other drivers.
  • "You don't know if you will reach your destination," one trucker told The WSJ of driving in Ukraine.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Trucking companies in Ukraine, including those delivering aid to the war-torn east, are struggling to get hold of fuel. It's led at least one company to resort to an unusual method to ensure its supply lines remain open.

Truck drivers working for DFDS, the Danish shipping and logistics giant, have reportedly been instructed to fill their gas tanks in Poland when returning from the European Union and drive to Lviv in western Ukraine, where the remaining gas is siphoned off and distributed among trucks destined for central and eastern parts of the country.

Oleksandr Poliukhovych, a manager at DFDS, told The Wall Street Journal that the siphoning system would sustain operations for a few days – but government officials would soon need to take action, by opening the country's remaining fuel reserves or finding new ways to import diesel.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has acknowledged the fuel shortage and says the country is negotiating with major energy companies over shipments of gas and diesel, per Ukrainian news site Ukrinform.

Before Russia invaded, DFDS's operations in Ukraine consisted mainly of transporting metal parts, furniture, and textiles, but it soon pivoted to moving medical and humanitarian aid, The Journal reported.

Serhiy Berestenko, a DFDS trucker, told The Journal: "The first problem is you don't know if you will reach your destination. And the second problem is you do not know in what condition you will return." He said that traveling between Kyiv, in the north, and Dnipro, in the east, now takes around 18 hours, up from seven before the invasion, in part because of the number of military checkpoints.

Refined petroleum imports from Russia and Belarus previously accounted for around 70% of Ukraine's supply, per OEC data. Since Russia invaded, Ukraine has largely been forced to rely on road and rail for imports. Russia's navy has targeted Ukrainian fuel depots and refineries and blockaded major seaports, including those in Lviv, Kyiv, Dnipro, and Kharkiv.

Most of Ukraine's oil came from Azerbaijan through the Port of Odessa, and was refined at a facility in Kremenchuk in the Poltava region, Kristine Petrosyan, an analyst at the International Energy Agency, told The Journal. But Odessa has been hit by air strikes and the Kremenchuk site, which Reuters reported was Ukraine's only fully-functioning oil refinery, was targeted by Russian missiles in early April. "The facility has been completely destroyed and can no longer function," Poltava's governor said, per Reuters.

Importing fuel from several countries bordering Ukraine is largely impractial because vehicles would need to cross the Carpathian Mountains, S&P Global Commodity Insights said.

Serhiy Kuyun, head of fuel consultancy A-95, told S&P Global: "I know of three regional fuel chains that have already stopped selling fuel in the last two days because the cost is higher than the set prices. Even large players are forced to limit sales, because new batches of fuel arrive at the pump, but its cost is already beyond the established price corridor."

In addition, more than 30 petrol station had been destroyed since Russia invaded, Shmyhal said.

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