Not just oil troubles: Saudi Arabia's top gas exec dismissed

Published February 5th, 2015 - 08:35 GMT

As gas shortages across the country continued, the National Gas and Industrialization Company (GASCO) on Tuesday removed a top executive from his position and appointed a new chief executive officer.
Iyas bin Samir Al-Hajari is the new man at the helm, with Salman bin Mohammed Al-Jeshi, Gasco’s chairman, no longer managing director.
The gas crisis started three weeks ago after the company retrenched many distribution employees without replacing them, according to reports.
This resulted in an acute shortage of gas across the Kingdom including Jeddah and Makkah, with the price of a cylinder shooting up from SR15 to SR100. Many restaurants in the Kingdom closed down because they were not able to get gas at a reasonable price. Al-Hajari said on Tuesday that the shortage was caused by a lack of supply from the Aramco plants in Yanbu and Qatif. “Production at the Yanbu plant dropped over the past two weeks, which in turn affected the supply in Jeddah.” 
He said there had been attempts to get additional supplies from Qatif to meet the demand in Jeddah. Poor weather conditions on the roads from Qatif to Jeddah delayed the arrival of trucks carrying cooking gas. The shortage has already been solved partially with the arrival of 50,000 cylinders of various sizes from Qatif on Sunday, he said.
He denied that the shortage was triggered by the industrial action started by Saudi workers who demanded the payment of an annual bonus. He said the company would not agree to any employee stopping working under any circumstances. 
Arab News, however, discovered that three major gas-pumping stations were not operating because of the strike by workers. 
Some workers told Arab News that they refused to work because they did not get their annual bonus, and also because some of their colleagues were sacked after asking for their “rightful payments.”
Jeddah residents have called for a quick resolution of the problem. 
Many said they cannot believe that Saudi Arabia, which is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and natural gas, is facing such a problem.
Fawaz Al-Ghamdi said he had not been able to get a gas cylinder for the past two weeks because shops in most parts of the city were closed. 
He was forced to borrow one from a neighbor who lives in his building.
Maher Al-Zahrani said a black market for gas cylinders have now appeared because of the shortage. He bought four small gas cylinders for SR100 each.

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