Hanoians stock up on gasoline fearing shortages

By Anh Minh, Anh Tu   October 11, 2022 | 08:01 pm PT
Hanoians stock up on gasoline fearing shortages
People gather at a gas station on Nguyen Phong Sac Street of Cau Giay District in Hanoi to buy gasoline for their motorbikes on October 11, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tu Anh
Hanoians besieged gas stations Tuesday night fearing that the fuel shortage that has hit Vietnam is likely to worsen.

At 9 p.m. on Tuesday Minh Duc of Cau Giay District took his motorbike to fill petrol.

He wanted to avoid scrounging for fuel the next morning and being late for work.

But after going to several gas stations near his house, he could not find himself a spot to get petrol as there had been too many people that have waited in line before him.

He said, "Then I waited at a gas station on Nguyen Phong Sac Street, but after 15 minutes, there was still no sign I could buy gas and so I decided to go to another larger one."

It took until 10 p.m. to fill his motorbike.

All three gas stations on Hoang Quoc Viet Street in Cau Giay were packed with motorcyclists.

At 10 p.m. many places in Cau Giay, Dong Da and Thanh Xuan districts remained crowded with motorbikes queuing up to buy fuel.

Among them was Hang, who had been waiting at a gas station on Lang Street in Dong Da for almost 15 minutes but said she could not take the risk of trying elsewhere since her motorbike was very low on gas.

The manager of a gas station on Tran Phu Street said in the last three days three times the normal amount of fuel had been sold.

Usually people do not come to buy gas soon after prices are adjusted upward, but it was different on Tuesday night when such crowds poured in that staff could not even take a short break.

On Tuesday afternoon gasoline prices were hiked for the first time in nearly three months after nine consecutive cuts as retailers repeatedly complained that the low prices caused them losses.

RON95 gasoline costs VND22,000 ($0.92) a liter, the same level as in December last year, biofuel E5 RON92 prices are up 2.7% to VND21,290 and diesel prices have gone up by 8.8% to VND24,160.

An employee at station No.23 belonging to Petrolimex’s Ha Son Binh company in Ha Dong District said his gas station had been crowded since afternoon, with people even bringing along bottles to fill.

On Monday 121 fuel stations in Ho Chi Minh City were out of stocks, while many in other southern localities like Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc, Kien Giang, and An Giang provinces also reported shortages.

People walking their motorbikes and scooters after being unable to buy fuel was a common sight.

Retailers said the government’s retail price cuts force them to sell at a loss, and fuel firms claimed small gas stations lose VND100-300 million (US$4,166-12,500) a day and large ones lose VND500 million due to low commissions, and might have to close down if things do not improve this week.

But insiders said the price hikes have not increased the commissions distributors give retailers.

A retailer in Hanoi, who asked not to be identified, said he owns two gas stations and was informed after the price adjustment that he would get a commission of VN120-150 per liter of gasoline and nothing for diesel.

This means retailers would continue to suffer losses since the commission could not cover overheads, he said.

His gas stations continue to face a supply shortage, he said.

He had ordered for stocks Tuesday afternoon but that night he was still waiting for supply at warehouses, he said.

"Ourstocks are only enough for until early tomorrow, and if we cannot get more tonight we will have nothing to sell tomorrow."

Nguyen Thi Ngoc, owner of three gas stations on Chuong My Street in Hanoi, said she is in the same situation after her distributor said Tuesday night there is no fuel to supply while her stocks are limited.

"The distributor said it will take at least three more days for supply to stabilize."

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said however that the gasoline shortage is not widespread and only 100 out of the 17,000 gas stations in the country are running short.

Recently 36 retailers in HCMC complained about "problematic" management of fuel retail prices by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance, saying they were kept so low that businesses were losing money on every liter of gasoline sold.

The ministry is expected to hold a meeting with distributors on Wednesday.

Long queues form at Hanoi gas stations as fuel shortage fears persist. Video by Huy Minh

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