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China struggling to meet fuel shortages
Updated: 2005-08-17 16:34

Officials scrambled Tuesday to resolve severe gasoline and diesel shortages in China's south and east amid complaints that government price controls are worsening supply problems, the Associated Press reported.

Drivers in the southern province of Guangdong were waiting for hours for gas in lines up to a half-mile long, sometimes leaving with empty tanks when supplies ran out.

Motorcyclists wait to add fuel at a gas station in Guangzhou in this photo taken on August 12, 2005. [newsphoto]

In the southern city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, more than half of all gas stations closed Monday as shortages worsened, the Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

Although disruptions to tanker traffic due to recent typhoons were one factor, the crisis is mainly blamed on government price controls that prevent local refineries from passing on higher costs due to surging crude oil prices, AP said.

Meanwhile, the price authorities in Guangdong Province has launched a crackdown on gas stations that drove up fuel prices, the Xinmin Evening Post reported Wednesday.

A gas station found pushing up prices is subjuct to a fine of up to 200,000 yuan, according to the Shanghai-based newspaper.

Signs of supply shortages began surfacing earlier this month, with reports that Guangdong filling stations were limiting vehicles to 50 yuan, or $6, worth of fuel or about 11 liters, or nearly three gallons, of gas.

At the pump in Guangdong, gasoline currently retails for 4.28 yuan a liter, or $2.01 a gallon.

An official in the Shenzhen government's information office confirmed that the city was struggling to resolve the problem, saying it would take some time. In the meantime, the official, who refused to give his name, provided a list of 56 stations out of more than 200 in the city that he said still had fuel to sell.

The daily supply of gasoline to the city was about 10,500 gallons, while demand is well over 18,500 gallons, the Post reported.
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