Portugal: trucker strike affecting fuel supply

Portugal declares energy crisis as truckers’ strike cuts fuel supplies
Government orders minimum services to keep airports, hospitals open.

By PAUL AMES 4/17/19, 1:10 PM CET Updated 4/17/19, 2:17 PM CET
LISBON – Portugal declared a national energy crisis Wednesday as a strike by fuel-truck drivers strangled supplies to gas stations, threatening to bring the country to a standstill.

The government ordered truckers to resume deliveries to airports, hospitals and other essential services and called in the security forces to ensure critical infrastructure is kept running.

Drivers from the National Republican Guard were reportedly taking 1 million liters of fuel to Faro airport in the south of the country Wednesday morning.

The government also ordered truckers to maintain services needed to keep the country’s two main oil refineries in operation and insisted “minimal” supplies of at least 40 percent of normal levels had to be maintained at gas stations in Lisbon and the second city of Porto.

“Supply to airports and to the security services is assured,” Prime Minister António Costa told parliament Wednesday. “We can also guarantee respect for the minimum supply of 40 percent at gas stations.”

However, as the strike entered its third day, hundreds of gas stations were running out of fuel and motorists lined up through the night to fill up at pumps that were still operating. Public transport operators in Lisbon and Porto cautioned they had only two days of supplies to keep buses running.

An unofficial website, set up to keep drivers informed, reported over 2,000 stations experiencing some sort of shortage, mostly of diesel.

The strike comes in a week where many Portuguese take to the roads for the Easter holidays, but union leaders vowed the walkout would continue until their demands are met.