Sat, Dec 06, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Group urges another gas price cut

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Natural gas prices in Taiwan should be cut further even after a 2.99 percent drop announced earlier this week by state-run petroleum refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), the Consumers’ Foundation (消基會) said yesterday.

Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁), chairman of the non-profit organization, said natural gas prices had room to allow another 40 percent cut to reflect the international market price.

Hsieh also said that Taiwan should follow in the US’ footsteps and print the current international natural gas price on receipts to keep consumers informed.

Citing data showing that natural gas futures in New York plunged by 47 percent from US$12.977 per unit on July 7 to US$6.92 per unit on Oct. 20, Hsieh said domestic natural gas prices should fall to the pre-May 28 level.

He also suggested that CPC review its operational performance.

CPC on Tuesday announced its first adjustment of domestic natural gas prices since May 28, dropping the price by an average 2.99 percent. This translated into a price reduction of between NT$0.24 per cubic meter and NT$1.63 per cubic meter, depending on the category of natural gas user.

On May 28, CPC’s natural gas price rose by NT$3.85 per cubic meter from an average NT$13.46 per cubic meter because of skyrocketing international crude oil prices.

The price cut on Tuesday, retroactive to Monday, was the biggest drop in natural gas prices announced by CPC since it was authorized to adjust prices. The announcement came as a surprise as the company had initially said it would not lower prices until next month.

CPC officials yesterday rebutted media reports that the company was going to slash natural gas prices by 7 percent.

CPC is allowed to adjust the price of natural gas within a range of 3 percent each month without government permission.

The company is in discussions with the government on whether to lower prices further considering that its natural gas department has recorded an accumulated loss of NT$35 billion (US$1.04 billion) this year because of import costs outstripping domestic prices, CPC chairman Pan Wenent (潘文炎) said.

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