Buses, trucks and motorcycles wait for diesel at a gas station in Langzhong, Sichuan province, on Thursday. [Photo/China Daily]
Sinopec promises to increase its production to to ease congestion
BEIJING - China's diesel shortage has paralyzed traffic on a pivotal expressway in Northwest China, with trucks waiting in long lines to fill their fuel tanks.
Truck driver Zhang Manku said he waited for eight hours on Thursday to fill up at a gas station in Ningqiang, a county in Shaanxi province close to Sichuan province.
"I drove into Shaanxi from Sichuan on the Hanning (Hanzhong-Ningqiang) Expressway at 9 am and crept along as part of a 20-km queue of trucks. It was 5 pm when it was my turn."
Gao Xiang, an official with the expressway administration, said more than 1,000 trucks were stranded at the Shaanxi-Sichuan border on Thursday.
"Dozens of road workers were mobilized to divert traffic," Gao said.
The congestion eased slightly on Friday but most truck drivers still had to wait at least two hours for diesel, he said.
Gao said the congestion will likely persist during the coming weeks unless the diesel shortage is resolved.
Sinopec, China's major oil refiner, supplies 100 tons of diesel daily to Ningqiang city.
"So many vehicles are waiting that we have set a limit for each truck," said Dui Jinyu, a sales manager at Sinopec's Shaanxi branch.
He said the company was trying to increase diesel supplies and he promised that there will not be a price hike as a result of the shortage.
"We'll give priority to buses, as well as trucks that transport vegetables, fruits, live pigs and other agricultural products closely related to daily life," Dui said.
To ease the shortage, Sinopec has promised to increase the scale of its processing of crude oil. The company said it will process 4.27 million barrels per day this month, up 9.9 percent year-on-year and 1 percent from October.
Some of its oil refineries have also cut their production of petrol and industrial chemicals to make room for additional diesel refining.
The company said it will also import 200,000 tons of diesel to supplement supplies in some regions.
The unprecedented diesel shortage has led to the closure of many gas stations and lineups of trucks can be seen in many cities.
Experts blame the shortage partly on the "blackout policy" adopted by some local governments to meet their emission reduction goals as many factories have been hoarding diesel supplies to use for the generation of electricity so they can continue production.