Sat, May 10, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Illegal fuel sales fall by 68 percent

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Effective policing and heavy punishment are likely to have reduced illegal fuel sales by 68 percent year-on-year in the first four months of this year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday in a press release.

The ministry’s Bureau of Energy said police recorded eight arrests for illegal fuel trading in the first four months of this year, a big drop from 25 arrests for the same period last year.

The bureau said the major reason for the decline could be stepped-up police investigations in recent years as surging international crude oil prices push the government to keep tabs on the illegal trade.

Eighty-seven arrests were recorded last year, with the total amount of illegal fuel recovered reaching 221 kiloliters, of which 25 kiloliters was gasoline and 196 kiloliters was diesel.

The larger share of diesel oil indicated that illegal traders were targeting trucks rather than cars, the bureau said.

Another reason for the lower figure was the heavy punishments for fishing boat skippers who illegally sell fuel to truck drivers, the bureau said.

Apart from heavy fines, boat owners face a one-year suspension of their fishing license for a first offense; a second offense results in the revoking of the license.

With domestic oil prices set to rise, however, the bureau expects more illegal oil trading, which would jeopardize both public safety and fair competition, the bureau said.

State-owned oil company CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油), has not raised gasoline prices since last November, despite skyrocketing international oil prices, because of a price-cap put in place by the Democratic Progressive Party government.

The company is set to increase oil prices to reflect higher costs following the inauguration of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration on May 20.

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