Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and retail station dealers found to be hoarding petroleum products risk a one-year jail term or a one million shillings fine including revocation of their licenses, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) warned on Tuesday.
EPRA Director-General Pavel Oimeke says this follows reports of an artificial shortage of petroleum products in the country particularly, Western Kenya.
“The country has sufficient petroleum stocks. However, preliminary investigations indicate that a number of OMCs are deliberately holding back sales to non-franchised petroleum retailers in anticipation of a price increase,” said Mr. Oimeke.
“This practice is tantamount to hoarding and is an offence punishable by law.” added the Director General.
According to Oimeke, EPRA will invoke the Petroleum Act No. 2 of 2019 that forbids hoarding of petroleum products.
Condition no. 15 of the Import, Export and Wholesale of Petroleum Products License and the Retail of Petroleum Products License also bars OMCs and other petroleum products retailers from engaging in activities intended or likely to disrupt or interfere with competition, including but not limited to, cartel-like behavior and creation of artificial shortage of petroleum products.
“OMCs and petroleum retail station dealers found to have committed the offence of hoarding shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law and their operating licenses permanently revoked,” he warns.
The regulator is also calling on Kenyans to report any suspicion of hoarding by oil marketers that prevents Kenyans from accessing fuel like they would have otherwise normally accessed.
Oil prices have been falling this year due to price wars between oil-producing countries and partly because of a sharp decline in demand within the country due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
In May, pump prices dropped by about Sh20 for every litre, the biggest margin in a decade. The drop saw Kenyan motorists begin to enjoy reduced prices after more than two years of waiting.
The latest move by EPRA could be informed by the need to rein in on oil marketers who might be hoarding oil in anticipation that prices will increase after normalcy resumes.