Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Gas stations warned over hoarding

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

If gasoline stations use empty oil tanks or other unauthorized containers to hoard petroleum products, they face fines of up to NT$500,000 (US$1,640), the Bureau of Energy warned yesterday.

A bureau official made the remarks after reports that individuals as well as gas station operators are using containers to store petroleum products in anticipation of dramatic price hikes after president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is inaugurated on May 20.

The next Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government is expected to raise the prices of petroleum products after the outgoing Democratic Progressive Party government refused to do for fear of fanning inflation, despite skyrocketing global prices.

But the Ma team has said that it will allow the market to reflect the surging price of crude oil and would likely adjust prices.

Bureau officials said that station owners should apply for approval from city or county authorities 30 days ahead of changes to the layout and facilities of the stations.

The officials said that those who illegally store petroleum products face fines of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000. If the stations refuse to correct the problems before a deadline, the authorities could increase the fines until improvements are made.

As for those who use buckets or other crude containers to buy petroleum products, the officials said that gas stations could sell them the products, but that safety should be kept in mind.

But if station operators suspect customers of hoarding petroleum because of the expected price hike, they can refuse to sell it, he added.

The official also urged the public to call a toll-free telephone number, 0800-300-818, to report stations that illegally store petroleum products.

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