Cheap-fuel stations can't keep up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am

Companies to allot more nozzles to cut-price LPG

Fuel companies have promised to make more nozzles available for cheap liquefied petroleum gas after a new pricing mechanism comes into force on Wednesday.

China Resources Petrochemical (CRC) and ECO Energy, which have been accused of limiting the availability of cut-price LPG to take advantage of soaring prices for the full-priced fuel, said they would allocate at least 70 per cent of their nozzles to the cheaper version.

The companies said they had been struggling to meet demand because of long queues outside designated fuel stations.

CRC and ECO are required to provide lower-than-market-price LPG to taxis and minibus drivers using the clean fuel in return for a waiver on land premiums at designated stations.

The new formula will allow prices at the designated stations to follow international price movements more closely by reviewing them monthly instead of every six months, narrowing the gap between the cut-price and full-price stations.

'We have tried our best to raise the amount of supply, but we have been reaching our threshold,' said CRC president Zhu Dan, whose company operates seven of the 12 designated filling stations. 'We are buying more gas delivery trucks and have extended our working hours but the demand is too high.'

ECO general manager Philip Siu Kam-shing said his company was also struggling to meet demand.

He said non-emergency repair work on the nozzles had been delayed and LPG delivery trucks had been hired from other companies.

Environmental Protection deputy director Roy Tang Yun-kwong ruled out building more designated stations in the near future. 'The 400 nozzles in the two types of filling stations are sufficient to meet the demand,' he said.

He promised more inspections to ensure the LPG companies kept their word.