October 10, 2017 / 8:43 AM / a year ago

Kazakh energy officials fired over gasoline shortages

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev fired two senior energy officials on Tuesday after the Central Asia’s biggest oil exporter reported fuel shortages on the domestic market, prompting long queues at petrol stations.

A sealed fuel pump with a note informing about lack of different kinds of fuel is seen at a gas station closed due to fuel shortage in Almaty, Kazakhstan October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

The former Soviet republic operates three large refineries, but still imports almost a third of its fuel from neighboring Russia. One of the three refineries halted gasoline production on Sept.21 for maintenance and upgrade work.

The government has sought to negotiate higher Russian supplies to compensate for that. But many petrol stations in Almaty, the biggest Kazakh city, have halted or limited sales this month citing lack of fuel, while others have raised prices.

At a government meeting on Tuesday, Sagintayev sacked Deputy Energy Minister Aset Magauov and deputy chief executive of state energy firm KazMunayGaz, Daniyar Berlibayev, blaming the ministry and the company for failing to ensure stable supplies.

The government has said upgrades should allow the country’s three refineries to fully supply the domestic market next year.

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Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva in Astana and Mariya Gordeyeva in Almaty; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Jason Neely

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