Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti fuel problem affects electricity producers


An ongoing fuel shortage in Haiti has hampered the country’s electricity producers.

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Independent power producer Sogener has joined the ranks of Haiti’s power plants unable to supply adequate electricity because of an ongoing fuel shortage in the quake-ravaged country.

On Saturday, company president and chief executive officer Jean-Marie Vorbe ordered tankers carrying 19,000 gallons of diesel to turn back after Haiti’s Ministry of Finance blocked the trucks at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The fuel, valued at $50,000, is needed to generate electricity for Haiti’s state-owned power company, EDH.

Sogener has a contract to produce power for EDH, but under the contract, it must purchase its own fuel on the open market.

Vorbe said the decision to block the tankers was taken by Haitian Finance Minister Ronald Baudin. Baudin could not be reached for comment.

Haiti, which purchases fuel under preferential terms by Venezuela’s PetroCaribe program, has been experiencing a shortage because of a delayed shipment.

As a result Haitians have been scrambling to find fuel at gas stations, lining up for hours. In cases where they are lucky to find fuel it is rationed by gas stations. The ministry of finance this week authorized gasoline companies to import from the Dominican Republic.

Motorists are not the only ones feeling the impact. The country’s electricity supply, already in dismal condition following the Jan. 12 quake, has also been affected as independent power producers run out of fuel.

The government has said a shipment is expected Sunday, but that does not mean the fuel will be ready the same day, said Vorbe.

“Minister Baudin is playing God,” said a frustrated Vorbe, working the phones Saturday in hopes of getting the trucks across the border before ordering them to turn back.

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