Land boost for petrol station construction

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 April, 1999, 12:00am

More land will be made available to build petrol stations to help bring in more suppliers and cut prices, officials said.

Stations could be given space on private housing estates, Secretary for Economic Services Stephen Ip Shu-kwan told Legco's economic services panel yesterday.

He was discussing the matter with the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau, he said.

'At present, it is very difficult to get a new site for an oil station. We hope to attract new companies to enter the market so that it will be no longer confined to the existing five companies.' His comments came after legislators heard retail prices for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) had dropped by only three cents per kilogram while the average cost of imports had fallen by 68 cents in 1998.

The LPG industry's average net profit was 28 per cent, versus 22 per cent in 1997.

But major oil firms insisted the industry, which needed heavy capital investments, faced fierce competition.

'We are earning less than 28 per cent, as we've invested a lot in a new LPG depot which is equipped with up-to-date safety facilities,' said Robert Young, Shell's director for Hong Kong and Macau.

Johnnie Chia from Mobil Oil Hong Kong said: 'The industry is highly safety-oriented. Money cannot buy safety and we should not therefore retract from that.' Pamela Chan Wong Shui, chief executive of the Consumer Council, said the problem could not be solved unless a fair competition law was enacted.