‘70% of gas stations owned by expats’
About 70 percent of fuel stations are owned by individual expatriates as cover-up businesses, local media reported recently, quoting an industry source.
There are about 9,000 gas stations in the country of which 90 percent are owned by individuals, said Mamdouh Al-Rikhaimi, a member of the National Committee for Gas Station Companies. National companies only make up 10 percent of the sector, he said.
He claimed some Saudi operators lease gas stations to foreign workers who then fraudulently sell mixed gasoline to customers.
He claimed that the fraud includes mixing benzene with diesel or benzene grade 91 with grade 95, and the manipulation of gas meters. He called on the government to set up an independent body to monitor the fuel quality at stations.
He urged Saudi Aramco, which provides fuel to the stations, to institute strict monitoring of trucks transporting fuel, especially when loading and unloading.
Ahmed Al-Falih, deputy chairman of the national committee for gas station companies, said there is currently no independent body to oversee gas stations in the country, which is left to the discretion of inspecting officers.
To correct this situation, he suggested that three samples be taken from stations suspected of fraud. One sample should be kept by the operator, the second by the inspecting officer and the third sent to a laboratory for testing. If any party is not satisfied with the results, the three samples could be verified by a neutral laboratory for a final decision, he said.
He said the committee should be involved in any new system of monitoring gas stations in the country. This is because its members deal with all aspects of the industry on a daily basis, while inspectors only handle the regulatory part of the business.
He said it was important to ensure that each worker at a gas station is given clearly defined duties because this would help determine who is responsible for any fraud.