Protesting truck drivers demand more cuts in diesel prices

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2008, 12:00am

More than 50 truck drivers protested outside the Central Government Offices yesterday and two oil companies, demanding additional cuts to diesel prices.

They want the government to exert pressure on oil companies to adjust their prices in line with dropping rates for crude oil. Crude oil stood at US$112 a barrel yesterday, about a quarter off its peak of US$147 in mid-July.

Prices at the pump, however, have fallen only by 55 cents, or 3.2 per cent over the same period, while diesel has dropped just 0.2 per cent.

Shell said such comparisons ignored the fact that fuel prices did not strictly follow crude oil prices. A spokeswoman from ExxonMobil said it did not pass all of the cost of more expensive crude on to consumers, so likewise when prices fell, they should not expect prices at the pump to drop excessively.

'In the five months to July crude oil prices rose by 41 per cent, but over the same period our retail diesel price was marked up by 23.1 per cent,' she said.

Transport sector lawmaker Miriam Lau Kin-yee said she would urge the government to inspect the oil companies' books. 'The public can never learn the truth because we can never check their books.'

Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said the government had been negotiating with oil companies over the past two weeks for further price reductions. But he also said earlier the government had no control over its price setting.

Last month, ExxonMobil, Shell, Caltex and Sinopec announced a 15-cent cut for diesel and 20-cent cut for petrol.