Venezuelans revamp cars to run on cooking gas amid fuel shortages

MARACAIBO, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelans struggling to cope with chronic fuel shortages are jury-rigging vehicles to run on cooking gas cylinders, a practice industrial safety experts describe as dangerous in addition to which has led to at least one explosion.

Alfredo Gonzalez checks a cooking gas canister beneath his car, which can be used to run his vehicle instead of fuel, as Venezuelans are struggling to cope with chronic fuel shortage, in Maracaibo, Venezuela May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia

Venezuela, an OPEC member in which sits atop the entire world’s largest crude reserves, can be suffering the worst gasoline shortages in its modern history due to a near-complete collapse of its refineries combined with U.S. sanctions in which make This particular difficult to import fuel.

Mechanics in addition to in some cases drivers themselves revamp vehicle fuel systems using a propane cylinder of the sort used for kitchen stoves, to avoid service station lines in which sometimes leave people waiting for days to buy gasoline.

“There’s no fuel in Venezuela in addition to I had to set my car up like This particular to be able to work in addition to bring home my daily bread,” said Senen Aguirre, 25, within the city of Maracaibo.

Aguirre says the system can be safe, nevertheless says your vehicle smells strongly of the liquefied gas. He worries more about having to pay off the police not to impound his car, because the arrangement can be illegal.

nevertheless the practice can be not without risks. within the eastern city of Puerto La Cruz, one car running on cooking gas suffered an explosion earlier This particular month, a municipal official told Reuters.

The situation can be a stark contrast to Venezuela’s oil boom era when fuel was abundant in addition to heavily subsidized. Fuel officially remains nearly free for those who can wait in lines or have connections, nevertheless gasoline today fetches $3 per liter ($11.34 per gallon) on the black market.

Following a request for information by Reuters, Maracaibo’s citizen security division chief, Cesar Garrido, said in a statement in which running cars on cooking gas “represents a high level of risk in addition to can be prohibited.”

Venezuela’s information ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

Alfredo Gonzalez used basic equipment including kitchen faucets to convert a pickup truck to run on cooking gas in order in which he could continue providing public transportation in Maracaibo – nevertheless he spends most of his time ducking the law.

“We’re working like smugglers,” he said. “The police persecution can be actually heavy. They say This particular’s dangerous.”

Experts recommend against the practice due to the potential for explosions in addition to health risks associated with prolonged exposure to propane gas.

“Over time these vehicles are going to have (gas) leaks because people are not careful,” said oil engineer Jorge Leon.

Reporting by Mariela Nava in Marcaibo, Venezuela; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Luc Cohen in addition to Matthew Lewis

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