LCQ14: Motor vehicle diesel supply

     Following is a question by the Hon Miriam Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (January 5):

Question :

     It has been reported that due to recent shortage of motor vehicle diesel on the Mainland, some mainland petrol stations have limited the refuel amount per vehicle or stopped such service, while some of them have even refused to supply diesel to cross-boundary trucks.  Even though cross-boundary truck drivers from Hong Kong have tried as far as practicable to fully refuel their vehicles in Hong Kong beforehand, it is necessary for them to refuel midway when they travel longer distances.  Some members of the transport sector have relayed to me that as a result of diesel shortage, drivers have to look for petrol stations everywhere in order to refuel their vehicles.  As the frequency of refuelling increases due to the limit on the refuel amount, drivers often need to spend hours to refuel at several petrol stations before they can travel on with a full tank.  This causes delays to their schedules and thereby reduces the number of delivery trips they can make.  Diesel shortage on the Mainland has caused difficulties in business operation for the cross-boundary transport sector, increased the costs of cross-boundary transportation and affected the livelihood of cross-boundary truck drivers.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the sources of diesel imported into Hong Kong and the respective percentages of diesel imported from those places; as well as the measures implemented by the authorities to stabilise diesel supply in Hong Kong at present;

(b) whether it has assessed the impact of Mainland's recent diesel shortage on Hong Kong; if it has, of the outcome and the measures in place to deal with the situation; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) given that it has been reported that diesel shortage on the Mainland may continue for some time until February this year, whether the authorities have measures to help the cross-boundary transport sector cope with the difficulties in refuelling on the Mainland; if they have, of the details of such measures; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) and (b) We have consulted the Environment Bureau on Parts (a) and (b). According to the data compiled by the Census and Statistics Department on imported gas oil (including motor vehicle diesel) for the first three quarters of 2010, the main sources of import for Hong Kong in that period were Singapore (41.7%), Korea (17.3%), Japan (17.2%) and Mainland China (14.7%).

     The Government has been monitoring the reserves of gas oil in Hong Kong for meeting local demand.  We have not observed any abnormality in gas oil supply recently.

     To ensure that adequate reserves of key oil products are kept for meeting local demand, the Government has agreed on a code of practice with major oil importers, under which the importers are required to maintain gas oil reserves of not less than 30 days' consumption in Hong Kong.  Furthermore, since the oil crisis in the 1970s, the Government has put in place legislative and administrative measures to deal with any possible oil supply disruption in Hong Kong.  According to the Oil (Conservation and Control) Ordinance (Chapter 264), the Government could regulate the storage, supply, acquisition, disposal or consumption of oil (including gas oil) under special circumstances.  The Government has also drawn up a contingency plan to coordinate the implementation of energy conservation measures by both the public and the private sectors as well as the allocation and consumption of oil in the event of a disruption in oil supply.

(c) The Transport Department has been maintaining close liaison with the transport sector on their latest operating situation.  It has recently contacted some operators and drivers of the cross-boundary transport trade to see whether their operation has been affected by the diesel supply situation on the Mainland.  It was informed that since the vast majority of operators/drivers of cross-boundary goods vehicles and coaches would refuel their vehicles in Hong Kong before leaving for the Mainland due to better diesel quality and other considerations, the supply of diesel on the Mainland has little impact on their operations.  Nevertheless, the Government will closely monitor the situation, continue to keep in close touch with the cross-boundary transport trade, and where necessary, reflect the situation to the relevant Mainland authorities so as to assist the trade's operation as far as possible.

Ends/Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:07