* Supplies from Ukraine have dried up after annexation
* Russia not yet supplying enough replacement fuel-trade
* Peak summer season could see shortages on peninsula
By Maxim Nazarov
MOSCOW, April 25 Crimea could be hit by severe
gasoline and diesel shortages within a few weeks after the
annexation of the peninsula by Russia cut off the majority of
its supplies from Ukraine, senior trade sources in the region
Fuel station owners in the region - some of whom have
already described the supply situation as "critical" - are also
contending with price cuts ordered by Moscow to bring them in
line with Russian prices.
Fuel shortages in the run-up to the peak summer holiday
season in Crimea, which is expecting a large influx of Russian
tourists, could be embarrassing for Moscow as it moves to cement
its control over the peninsula.
Ukrainian electricity company DTEK also threatened to cut
electricity supplies to the peninsula on Friday over unpaid
debts that it said total $60 million.
"The situation can already be described as critical," said a
senior employee at the headquarters of one of Crimea's service
"Gasoline is hardly available, there are no stocks. Our
management is looking at all ways to find gasoline."
Russia's energy ministry in Moscow declined to comment on
potential fuel shortages in Crimea.
Before being annexed by Moscow Crimea received the vast
majority of its gasoline and diesel from Ukraine by rail and
truck transportation, which has largely ground to a halt.
Shipping and trade sources said Russia has not yet been able
to compensate for the loss of these supplies by shipping enough
gasoline and diesel into Crimea through the small oil port of
Kerch in the east of the peninsula.
Ferries across the Strait of Kerch from Russia don't have
the capacity to ship sufficient quantities.
"The ferries already lack capacity for steady supplies,
never mind high demand during the coming tourist season's peak,"
said a trading source at a Russian oil major.
The service station companies are also required to switch
deals to the Russian ruble from the Ukrainian hryvna under the
new local authority.
Excluding military demand, Crimea needs about 300,000 tonnes
of diesel and 225,000 tonnes of gasoline each year, according to
estimates by industry sources. That is equivalent to a combined
11,000 barrels a day.
Any cut to electricity supplies from Ukraine could increase
diesel demand further, with communities likely to turn to
oil-fired generators for power supplies.
The region has about 450 fuel stations, a third of which are
owned by privately owned chains Atan Crim and Tes, while
Russia's Lukoil and Rosneft operate 13 and
nine stations respectively.
All of those companies declined to comment.
Ukraine's Ukrnafta operates 13 stations in Crimea and says
it has continued to supply them with fuel by tanker truck.
"Our stations (in Crimea) do not experience any supply
disruptions. Sales have been steady," said an Ukrnafta employee
Retail fuel prices in Crimea were lowered by 10-13 percent
this week, traders said, in line with the requirement by the new
local authorities to lower prices to the Russian average.
Supplies from Belarusian and Bulgarian refineries have also
dried up, another senior source at a service station company in
One possible solution may be to bring in oil tanker
shipments through the port and resort town of Feodosia in the
south of the peninsula.
Trade sources said it has received at least two vessels
carrying fuel in recent weeks, but the port does not yet have
the necessary infrastructure to distribute gasoline and diesel
to retail sites quickly.
(Reporting by Maxim Nazarov and Alexey Yarkovoy in Moscow;
Writing by David Sheppard in London; Editing by David Goodman)