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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Diesel shortage fuels discontent

By Tang Yue  (China Daily)

08:16, January 04, 2012

Drivers line up to fill their tanks in Changsha, Hunan province, last month. The province has had to grapple with a shortage of diesel this winter. Cui Meng / China Daily

Lack of supplies drives transport operators to frustration, Tang Yue reports from Hunan province.

Hu Libing, 40, normally brings in 500 yuan ($79) for a 12-hour day driving a taxi in Changsha from 6 am. But winter can be a chilly time of year, both in terms of temperature and income.

His revenue may drop, some days, to "a little more than 200 yuan". That doesn't even cover his costs as he must pay 220 yuan daily to the taxi company.

A diesel shortage is the reason Hu loses money on those days.

"I have to wait for two hours and even longer at the gas station to get refueled. And you are only allowed to buy 50 yuan worth of diesel. So I have to come back for another two hours in the afternoon," he said. "In the worst scenario, I tried 10 filling stations and couldn't get a single drop of diesel and was afraid of running out of fuel."

The shortages are nothing new to Changsha nor confined to Hunan province. They first occurred in the winter of 2003 in the Yangtze River Delta and became widespread in the past few years in central, eastern, southern and southwestern China during the peak season for diesel.

According to C1 Energy, an online information provider for the petrochemical industry, nearly half of the privately held filling stations and a quarter of the State-owned stations nationwide couldn't ensure ample supplies last month.

As a result, more than 20 buses in Changsha shut down for a couple of days in mid-December. Local media even reported that a funeral home in Chongqing lacked sufficient diesel supply to meet the demands of cremation during the pinch period last year.

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