Diesel Fuel Shortage in Poland Threatens Agriculture, Transportation
WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ A severe shortage of diesel fuel has resulted in train cancellations and forced farmers to leave thousands of acres of land unplowed, official reports said.
Government spokesman Jerzy Urban blamed the shortage on a sharp increase in demand. Poland imports nearly all of its diesel fuel from the Soviet Union and Urban said the imports had not been restricted.
″Consumption has considerably grown, without increasing imports,″ he said.
″Seasonal difficulties added up to the problems, and also a breakdown at one of the refining plants producing this diesel fuel,″ Urban said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.
Urban said farmers initially had suffered from the diesel shortage, but added that ″the issue has now exploded at the railway.″
The official PAP news agency reported Wednesday that the Polish State Railways had canceled a number of freight and passenger train runs because its reserves of diesel fuel were down to two to three days’ supply. The railways normally have a seven- to 10-day supply.
Twelve long-distance train runs have been suspended until further notice, as well as 70 local runs, about 2 percent of the overall total, PAP said.
The news agency said the fuel problems had also disrupted the transport of goods by ship on the Oder River.
Last month, the presidium of the communist-allied United Peasants’ Party warned that the shortages of diesel fuel would ″seriously affect the 1988 crop.″
The party’s leadership said the lack of fuel for tractors had made it impossible for farmers to plough nearly 2 million acres of land and sow winter wheat on another 741,000 acres.
The peasant party’s newspaper Dziennik Ludowy reported Dec. 28 that in southern Poland, there was ″real despair outside the pumps,″ as supplies of diesel fuel had dried up.
It said truck drivers sometimes had to wait for three days to tank up.
Andrzej Galczynski, director of the state-run CPN gasoline distribution enterprise, told the newspaper that diesel fuel supplies in 1987 were only sufficient to last 11 months.
Western economic analysts say the sharp increase in demand for diesel fuel has been caused by the growing number of diesel cars used by private motorists seeking to avoid gasoline rationing restrictions.
Drivers receive an average monthly ration of 6.2 to 9.4 gallons of regular gasoline depending on the size of their car. Diesel fuel has not been rationed so far.