NZ premier drops in on HK filling station

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2006, 12:00am


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It is not every day that the neighbourhood petrol station gets to host a prime minister. But yesterday New Zealand premier Helen Clark swept into a Sinopec outlet in King's Road, Quarry Bay, complete with a security detail and a squad of police motorcycles.

But no petrol was pumped.

The occasion was to congratulate mainland oil giant Sinopec and Provenco, a New Zealand technology company that is supplying its electronic payment system to Sinopec's petrol stations in Hong Kong. The prime minister, who is on an official visit to the city, was joined by David Ritchie, chief executive of Provenco Group, and Gao Wang, managing director of Sinopec (Hong Kong).

They briefly toured the petrol station and were given a demonstration of the payment technology by Mr Ritchie.

The prime minister highlighted the potential of the Hong Kong deal given that Sinopec operates 30,000 service stations across the mainland and is keen to update its technology in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

'For a company in New Zealand with a leading-edge technology product to get the opportunity to distribute into a huge market like this and looking at those 30,000 service stations which Sinopec has in China, we know Provenco could be on the cusp of huge opportunities,' she said.

'It's just a real thrill to see a hi-tech company from New Zealand making its mark in this way.'

Provenco has installed its technology in three stations so far in Hong Kong and will steadily roll it out throughout the city in the coming days.

The prime minister will wrap up her visit today.