China Seeks to Ease Fuel-Supply Concerns (Updated)

As diesel shortages continue to cause anxiety in the Chinese economy, the International Herald Tribune reports that the Chinese government is trying to allay concerns:

China has sufficient fuel supplies to avoid a recurrence of widespread diesel shortages in the near term, the government said late Monday as it sought to ease concerns about a new supply crisis.

China’s major oil firms were reported to be rationing diesel in parts of the country during the past few weeks due to shortages at private stations, causing a repeat of the long lines seen several months ago.

“Supply tightness, even queues and rationing, in southern China was partly due to rising needs in the spring season as well as more demand after the harsh winter weather,” the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its Web site.

Update: Despite the Chinese government’s previous announcements, Reuters reported today that diesel fuel is being rationed, mainly in southern and eastern China:

Down the coast in Guangzhou province, China’s manufacturing hub, diesel was rationed to 300 yuan ($42.56) for cash sales — enough to fill up a family car but just a small portion of a truck tank — and there were queues of up to 20 minutes.

In Shanghai more than half of 15 PetroChina or Sinopec branded stations. . ., in both the city centre and suburbs, said they were rationing sales or had run out of diesel entirely and were not expecting new deliveries.

“Diesel shipments are spotty. Now we are out and don’t know when the next one will arrive,” said one downtown attendant.

In response to these shortages, PetroChina and Sinopec have proposed importing gasoline, which still might not solve the problems of rising oil prices and inflation, reports CNN:

PetroChina Co Ltd, the country’s largest oil and gas producer, plans to import around 200,000 tons of gasoline in April to meet domestic demand. . .

The National Development and Reform Commission has urged PetroChina and Sinopec to increase output and ensure market supply, although the two oil majors cannot as yet pass on thier full costs to end-users.

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