Fuel shortage hits south China

Beijing, August 5:

Surging demand for fuel in China’s southern province of Guangdong, an export-oriented manufacturing centre, has led to severe shortages of gasoline and diesel, prompting officials to impose rationing, news reports said on Friday. Many filling stations in the Guangdong provincial capital of Guangzhou were limiting each car or truck to adding 50 yuan ($6) worth of fuel, newspapers said. They said some stations were completely sold out and cheaper types of fuel weren’t available anywhere. Officials blamed the shortages on surging demand, plus the reluctance of Chinese refineries to raise output at a time when soaring world crude oil prices have cut into profits, according to the reports. There was no immediate indication that the shortages were hurting businesses in Guangdong, whose factories supply much of the world’s low-cost furniture, toys, appliances and other goods. Photos in newspapers showed scores of taxis and private cars lined up at filling stations in Guangzhou. Some waiting drivers were pushing cars that had run dry. Guangzhou is reporting a monthly shortfall of about 350,000 barrels of refined oil products, the China Daily newspaper said, citing Xie Zhaowei, secretary of Guangzhou Petrol Industry Association. It didn’t say what the province’s total monthly consumption is. Elsewhere, the city of Dongguan, an important manufacturing center in the Pearl River Delta region near Hong Kong, has a 70,000 barrel-a-month shortfall, the report said.