State-run Qatar Fuel (Woqod) has opened one of its largest petrol stations in the country, aimed at providing relief to motorists amid a shortage of locations at which to fill up.
While the company has completed several new stations this year, all have been located outside central Doha.
Officials inaugurated the Bin Derham Service Station on B-Ring Road, located next to the Pearling Season International British School of Doha, this morning.
The four-lane station can fuel 16 vehicles at once and is open 24 hours a day. In addition to petrol, the service station also sells LPG canisters and has a Sidra convenience store with a fast-food counter and small indoor seating area.
The opening comes as Qatar’s state-controlled petrol distribution system struggles to keep pace with the country’s rapidly growing population and increase in the number of cars and trucks on the road. According to government statistics, more than 8,000 new vehicles were registered in September alone.
The extra cars often result in lineups at petrol pumps during peak periods, occasionally causing vehicle queues to extend onto the road and block traffic.
The problem has been exacerbated by the closure of several private stations in Doha, such as the Markhiya Petrol Station near Burger King signal and the petrol station near Villaggio Mall.
Additionally, there are no signs of activity at the petrol station just north of Landmark Mall, which was closed in 2014 following a fatal explosion at a nearby restaurant.
And the old Al Andalus Petrol Station on C-Ring Road has remained shuttered ever since an apparent underground explosion in September 2013, even though workers on the site previously said they expected it to reopen in 2014.
In recent months, some residents have reported being occasionally turned away from petrol stations by workers who say they’ve run out of fuel.
Ahmed Ali Mirza Johar, Woqod’s engineering services manager, told Doha News that none of his company’s stations have ever run dry.
He added that while Woqod is continuing to expand the number of stations it operates, there are no plans to close Qatar’s remaining private petrol facilities.
The Bin Derham Service Station is the sixth Woqod location to be completed this year and follows the opening of facilities in Al Lagthafiya, Al Wakrah, Wajbah, Al Thakhira in Al Khor and Lijimiliya.
Johar said Woqod hopes to open five stations this year, including two on Salwa Road and one in Al Rayyan.
That total is one less than the the 12 stations Woqod said it hoped to open this year in its annual report.
The company hopes to be operating 100 stations by 2019, up from its current 29.
Many of these will be located outside dense urban areas where there is more land available.
However, the company is also constructing new facilities in older parts of Doha, such as in Al Muntazah, just south of Center Junction at the Mega Mart grocery store near the Radisson Blu hotel.
Qatar residents purchased 2.12 billion liters of petrol last year, up 10.35 percent from 2013. Generous state subsidies mean motorists pay among the lowest prices at the pump in the world.
The government hiked the price of diesel fuel without warning last year in what was believed to be an effort to curb smuggling.
However, the drop in government revenue caused by persistently low oil and gas prices have prompted calls for Qatar to reconsider its state support programs, such as subsidized prices for petrol, electricity and water.
Johar said he was not aware of any plans to increase the price of petrol, which is currently fixed at QR1 (US$0.27) for a liter of “super” and QR0.85 ($0.23) for a liter of “premium.”