Qatar authorities have closed a popular petrol station and several surrounding shops near Immigration Roundabout today over safety concerns following a suspected natural gas leak.
Speaking to Doha News, several nearby shopkeepers said there was a smell of gas in the air this morning. The petrol pumps were closed around 9:30am, and shops were told to shut around 11am, one manager said.
Photos taken by those passing by show several Civil Defense police vehicles and a fire truck around the City Petrol Station, which is just off the Doha Expressway on Al Luqta Street on the way towards Education City and the Qatar National Convention Center.
By midday, all but one Civil Defense vehicle had left, but the petrol station – along with the adjacent Qatar National Bank branch, Porsche service center, dry cleaner, cafeteria and several other shops – remained closed.
Plastic barriers and a pair of pylons blocked the only entrance to the petrol station.
When asked for a comment, a Civil Defense official onsite declined to discuss what was happened, saying only that they were responding to an “emergency situation.”
A Ministry of the Environment official also visited the property and declined comment.
One man on the property, who was explaining to customers arriving on foot that everything was closed, suggested that the gas leak occurred close to the bank branch rather than at the petrol station itself.
It is unclear how long the petrol station will remain closed.
The news has been greeted with frustration by some motorists, given that central Doha has a dwindling number of petrol stations despite increasing demand.
Over the past few years, several Doha petrol stations have closed for safety reasons or to make way for new developments.
That includes the station just north of Landmark Mall, which shut more than a year ago after a fatal explosion in a nearby restaurant.
The Markhiya Petrol Station near Burger King (Markhiya) signal has also closed, as has the petrol station near Villaggio Mall.
And on C-Ring Road, the old Al Andalus Petrol Station remains shuttered, following an apparent underground explosion in September 2013.
Qatar’s state-backed fuel company Woqod has said it plans to open more than a dozen petrol stations over the next year, but most of those will be outside of Doha.