Rubis hits back at State over CEO deportation


A Rubis fuel station along Koinange Street in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Rubis Energy Kenya has hit back at the government over the deportation of its CEO, Jean-Christian Bergeron and accusation of fuel hoarding amid shortages that have paralysed transportation.

The oil marketer goaded the State over its claims of deporting Mr Bergeron to France, saying the CEO had travelled to Paris to brief the head office over Kenya’s fuel crisis.

Rubis also disputed State claims linking it to hoarding fuel and provided evidence that it upped supply in the three months to April.

Energy Cabinet secretary Monica Juma confirmed on Thursday that Mr Bergeron left Kenya on Wednesday evening in the wake of the State crackdown on marketers linked to the shortage but did not mention the deportation.

“We wish to clarify that the group managing director Rubis Energy Kenya and CEO East Africa Jean-Christian Bergeron upon consultation with Rubis Energy head office travelled to Paris to provide a full brief on the situation in Kenya,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“The gap in the supply of fuel has been triggered by various factors but one of the least publicised is the spike in local demand over the last three months evidenced by our daily retail sales.”

Rubis gave a detailed record indicating sales increased by 6.9 percent in February, 9.4 percent in March and 13.3 percent in April an indication that a surge in demand, not hoarding products caused the fuel shortages.

Kenya’s fuel crisis that has led to long queues at service stations has put pressure on government officials to clamp down on rising domestic prices.

Rubis Energy Kenya is owned by Rubis Energie, a subsidiary of the Rubis Group, which is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, following the full acquisition of both KenolKobil and Gulf Energy Holdings in 2019.

Mr Bergeron has led the Kenyan subsidiary of France’s Rubis Energie for three years.

Current shortage

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

An analysis by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority over the last four weeks released on Tuesday showed that leading oil marketers reduced their fuel allocations for Kenya in favour of the regional market where they can make more money.

The minister said some oil marketers intentionally failed to meet the required minimum operational stock plunging the country into crisis when Kenyans met stock-outs at retail stations.

Rubis’ rejoinder claimed the company has consistently allocated more than 80 percent of its product to the local market and less than 20 percent for export.

The firm said they went a step further to ensure their Nairobi depot was open during weekends to enable the delivery of fuel to service stations. Rubis controls 8.6 percent of the local market, making it the third biggest marketer after TotalEnergies and Vivo Energies.