Long queues, soaring prices at Ukraine’s few open gas stations

Kyiv, May 21 (EFE).- With the Russian invasion of Ukraine entering its third month, Ukrainians are struggling to refuel their vehicles, as most gas stations in the country are empty. Those who live near the border with Poland are a bit luckier, but prices are double what they were before the war, and drivers still have to wait for hours in long queues. One of the few gas stations open near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv near the border with Poland allows refueling 20 liters per vehicle, double the limit set by most that are open.

Taras tells Efe that some days he has waited for over an hour and a half, but this time it has taken just 30 minutes and he is already near the pump. But the long wait is not the only problem. "Now we have European prices," he says ironically as he smiles out the window of his gray Volkswagen Golf.

It costs about 56 hryvnias per liter, some 1.80 euros, but in some cases, the price can exceed two euros. Despite the war, the young man has not lost his optimism: "one day, the situation in the country will change and we will not have these problems". Unlike Taras, who obtained a week's supply of petrol, things are more difficult for truck drivers like Stepan.

"It's an awful situation. Near the border, you can find (fuel), but as soon as you move away from Lviv, it's really a problem," Stepan tells Efe. He has to go to Kyiv, where he is forced to resort to tricks such as refueling with old, almost unused cars, and then transferring it to the truck, or calling in favors from friends so that they can pass on what they have been able to get.

"We serve every day until it's over," says Oksana Duluk, an employee at a gas station on the highway between Lviv and Kyiv, adding that they serve between 300 to 400 drivers each day. Ukraine's infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a recent interview with Efe that his country needs the support of European countries to facilitate petrol supplies. "We understand that the situation with the fuel market in Europe is complicated," Kubrakov said. "But at the same time, our situation right now is more complicated because we are in a war."

The minister said ships carrying diesel for Ukraine were blocked in some of the nation's closest sea ports in Constanta in Romania and Gdansk in Poland. "Many ships (...) are waiting sometimes two weeks, one week, ten days in order just to get to port." Backed-up ports are a massive issue given that 80% of Ukraine's exports leave the country through the Black Sea.

EFE

lar/ta/ks