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Oil Supply Shortfall Felt in Guangzhou
2005-8-9 11:40:47      China Daily
The practice of oil supply by quotas was shelved for decades but has recently come back to life in many filling stations in South China's Guangzhou city owing to the shortfall in the supply of refined oil over the past few months.

Almost all the petrol stations in the city have felt the repercussions of the inadequate supply. The problem has been particularly serious with 93-octane petrol and diesel. The supply of 97-octane petrol is comparatively stable.

Some petrol stations have imposed a supply quota of around 100 yuan (US$12.33) on each vehicle for every visit, while many others have restricted supplies to their long-term customers such as bus companies or taxi firms.

Zhang Hansen, a local citizen who has recently bought a 2.4-litre "Odyssey" sedan, made by Guangzhou Honda, said the purchase of fuel has been a particular headache for him.

"The price rise is one thing," he told China Daily. "The more serious problem is that I have to go to three or four filling stations before I can fill up my car."

He said that he called in at three stations last weekend to refuel his car before he drove his family to Chaozhou, a city in the east of Guangdong Province. At each one he was faced with a massive queue, as others encountered the same problem.

He said if there is no change in the fuel situation in the near future, he would have to use public transport the next time he makes the journey.

Public transport operators have taken a particularly hard knock due to the double whammy of price hikes and shortages.

A dozen intercity bus operators in Guangzhou have recently raised fares by 5 per cent in order to combat the negative impact the situation has had on their businesses. Many others are reported to be considering following suit.

Urban bus and taxi companies have appealed to the municipal government for either subsidies or policies of price adjustments that would pass some of the fuel surcharge costs onto passengers.

The recent oil price rise costs an intercity bus about 50 yuan (US$6.17) extra a day for a distance of 800 kilometres; an urban bus, over 80 yuan (US$9.86); and a taxicab, over 40 yuan (US$4.82).

Xie Zhaowei, secretary of Guangzhou Petrol Industry Association, said it would be highly unlikely that the problem of oil shortages would ease this month.

He estimated that the shortfall of finished oil stands at 50,000 tons in Guangzhou for August.

Xie said the mounting demand for oil from the agricultural sector and increased oil use by power stations during the summer, will only combine to make the situation worse.

Several other cities in the Pearl River Delta region, including Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Zhaoqing, have felt the effects of the oil shortage.

The pinch on refined oil supplies in the region began to be felt in April, and then it worsened in July as the weather began to get increasingly hot and typhoons prevented oil tankers from docking on time.

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