Final talks to save Rubis CEO fail as he leaves country

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Final talks to save Rubis CEO fail as he leaves country


Jean-Christian Bergeron, CEO of Rubis Energy Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • A source who spoke to the Business Daily last night said the company was engaged in high-level talks with the Home and Foreign Ministries to overturn the sudden decision.
  • However, the reconciliation talks came a bit too late, as the government rushed to take action against entities accused of deepening the fuel crisis.
  • Energy Secretary Monica Juma confirmed on Thursday that Mr Bergeron had left the country on Wednesday evening and called recent actions by the Petroleum Marketing Companies (OMCs) “acts of economic sabotage”.

A last-ditch effort by Rubis Energy Kenya to save its CEO Jean-Christian Bergeron from deportation after the state revoked his work permit failed Wednesday night as authorities stepped up a crackdown on oil traders in due to fuel shortage.

A source who spoke to the business daily last night said the company was engaged in high-level talks with the interior and foreign ministries to reverse the sudden decision.

However, the reconciliation talks came a bit too late, as the government rushed to take action against entities accused of deepening the fuel crisis.

Energy Secretary Monica Juma confirmed on Thursday that Mr Bergeron had left the country on Wednesday evening and called recent actions by the Petroleum Marketing Companies (OMCs) “acts of economic sabotage”.

“In view of the above, I therefore confirm to the nation that the CEO of Rubis Kenya has left the country,” Dr Juma said during his address to the media.

The decision to send the Frenchman to park could be linked to the company’s involvement in selling more petroleum products to neighboring countries, which the government has blamed for the current shortage.

A four-week analysis from Epra released on Tuesday showed that major oil traders have reduced their fuel allocations for Kenya in favor of the regional market where they can make more money.

The SC said some OMC intentionally did not reach the required minimum operational stock, plunging the country into crisis when Kenyans encountered stock-outs at the respective gas stations.

Rubis controls 8.6% of the local market, making it the third largest distributor after TotalEnergies and Vivo Energies. Rubis’ sister company, Gulf Energy controls 2.7% of the market.

Some of the companies are said to have increased the share of fuel they sell to neighboring countries to over 60% from the traditional 40% to ease their cash flow crisis, leaving their retail pumps locally dry.

Dr. Juma also promised Kenyans in his address that the government would bring to book all actors who may have played a role in the current crisis.

“That we will go to great lengths to get all people and companies who violate their licensing and operating guidelines to book, because we cannot allow private entities or anyone else to disrupt our way of life and our freedoms darlings,” she said.

To bring fuel distribution back to normal, the SC ordered authorities to allow tankers to move across the country on a prime basis to stabilize supply in 72 hours while retailers were told to operate 24 hours a day.

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