Service stations warn of possible closings in the face of the crisis

Luis Pavone Russo has four service stations in the city of Córdoba. Yesterday, when arriving at one of them, he observed a scene that clearly paints the moment they are living in the sector: “There are queues of people in the Pago Fácil, but I don’t have a single car carrying fuel,” he said.

Since the national government decreed mandatory and preventive social isolation to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the collapse has been exacerbating among vendors, due to the lower number of vehicles circulating.

In the first weeks of the quarantine, the evaluation of the Federation of Fuel and Related Dealers of Córdoba (Fecac) was that the activity had collapsed between 75 and 80 percent. “Now we are already at 90 percent,” said Gabriel Bornoroni, president of Fecac and head of the Confederation of Entities for the Trade in Hydrocarbons (Cecha).

Pavone Russo confirmed that they are only working at 10 percent of their normal capacity, both in liquid fuels and CNG. In the latter case, less activity in taxi and remises services greatly affects.

“This not only impacts the beach, but also all the shops we have in the seasons, such as minishops where there were always people buying coffee or food, or accessories and supplies for the car, and now that consumption is not there either, ”said the businessman.

Under this scenario, Bornoroni assured that “there are several parking lots with intentions to close.”

“10 percent is an average, some are with activity at five percent. And the problem is that an open station demands to be 100 percent, “he said. In the interior, the panorama is similar, although it improves somewhat due to the trucks and machinery that load diesel for the soybean and corn crops.

“At road stations we are loading just 10 percent of normal gasoline. In the towns there is a little more movement, between 30 and 35 percent, “said Marcos Pignatta, director of the Pignatta Group, with stations in Río Segundo, Pilar and Oncativo.

Orders

From Fecac they complain that, by declaring stations as an essential service, the sector was left out of most of the benefits that were launched so that SMEs can face salary payments. To get out of trouble, they managed to formalize an agreement with the union to pay wages without paying employer contributions.

It also submitted a request to the Córdoba Provincial Energy Company (Epec) to eliminate fixed charges and allow the electricity bill to be paid in installments. The latter was also transferred to Ecogas and the oil companies for the fuel purchased.

In this context, one hope for stationers is that quarantine will continue to be relaxed. Pavone Russo and Pignatta acknowledged that, very slowly, a rebound in demand began to be observed after the Government exempted new activities, such as corralones, workshops and gomerías, from isolation.

Vending machines: Impact on employment

614. It is the number of service stations distributed throughout the province of Córdoba, according to data from the Federation of Fuel Vendors (Fecac). In total, they employ about nine thousand people.

Print edition

The original text of this article was published on 04/18/2020 in our printed edition.