LCQ21: Auto-liquefied petroleum gas filling stations
All along, there have been taxi drivers and public light bus drivers indicating that there are often long vehicle queues at the 12 dedicated auto-liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) filling stations (dedicated stations) in Hong Kong (especially in shift-changing periods). Although the Government has set up additional non-dedicated LPG filling stations (non-dedicated stations) for diversion of vehicles, the LPG pump prices (pump prices) at non-dedicated stations are higher than those at dedicated stations. It has been reported that while the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department has recently announced a slight reduction in the pump prices of dedicated stations, the pump prices of non-dedicated stations have gone up instead of going down. There are views pointing out that as the pump price gap between the two types of stations has widened from 10 per cent in the past to 30 per cent at present, some drivers choose to refill their vehicles across districts. The situation concerned has not only increased their operating costs, but also increased the burden on roads and the usage of dedicated stations, resulting in longer vehicle queues and thus causing obstruction to traffic. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the utilization rates of and the average queuing time for refilling at the 12 dedicated stations in the past three years;
(2) whether it has gained an understanding of the reasons why dedicated stations can adjust their pump prices downwards but non-dedicated stations adjust them upwards; if so, of the details; what measures the Government has put in place to monitor the adjustment of pump prices at non-dedicated stations;
(3) as it is learnt that three dedicated stations are currently not in operation due to works being carried out, resulting in longer queuing time for refilling at other dedicated stations, when the three dedicated stations will resume operation; and
(4) given that the existing 12 dedicated stations do not cover the entire territory (e.g. there is no dedicated station on Lantau Island), and as a result, some drivers have to refill their vehicles at non-dedicated stations and their operating costs are substantially increased, whether the Government will consider increasing the number of dedicated stations; if so, of the details; if not, the measures in place to reduce LPG cost burden on drivers?
To improve roadside air quality and protect public health, the Government started to launch the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) taxi and public light bus scheme in 2000. At the initial stage of the scheme, the Government offered land at zero land premium to operators for the set-up of 12 dedicated LPG filling stations (dedicated stations). The LPG retail prices of the dedicated stations shall be governed under the operation contracts signed between the respective operators and the Government. Apart from the above-mentioned 12 dedicated stations, there are currently 58 non-dedicated stations providing auto-LPG in Hong Kong. For these non-dedicated stations, their operators are awarded land grants through open tender and could set their own retail price of auto-fuels, including LPG, on a commercial basis, which are not subject to the relevant provisions of the operation contracts for dedicated stations.
In consultation with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), my reply to the question raised by the Hon Frankie Yick is as follows:
(1) The relevant government departments do not maintain information such as the average waiting time for refuelling at individual dedicated stations. In the past three years, the total LPG sales of the 12 dedicated stations accounted for about 65 per cent of the total sales of auto-LPG in Hong Kong. The Government has noticed that some taxi drivers refuel at some dedicated stations that are popular to the trade at the same time during the peak shift-change hours and the waiting time may be longer. Therefore, the Government has encouraged the trade to refuel at the dedicated stations during non-peak hours or at some less busy dedicated stations as far as possible, through the quarterly meetings between the operators of dedicated stations and the trade.
(2) According to the contract signed between the operators of dedicated stations and the Government, the ceiling price of auto-LPG to be sold by dedicated stations will be adjusted at the beginning of each month with reference to the changes in the international LPG price of the previous month with a certain time lag. As for the operators of non-dedicated stations, they generally determine the retail prices of auto-LPG on their own having regard to international LPG prices and market conditions.
In recent months, international LPG prices have experienced significant fluctuations, falling by 8 per cent in January 2023 but soaring by 32 per cent in February. When the auto-LPG ceiling price of various dedicated stations was adjusted downwards in February based on the change in the international LPG price of the previous month, the retail prices of auto-LPG in non-dedicated stations had already been adjusted upwards having regard to the international LPG price and market conditions in February, resulting in a larger gap between the prices of dedicated and non-dedicated stations at present. The auto-LPG ceiling price of dedicated stations will be adjusted accordingly on March 1, 2023, and it is anticipated that the relevant price gap will be narrowed by then.
(3) According to the Gas Safety Ordinance and the requirements of the new contracts signed between the Government and the operators of dedicated stations, the refuelling services of dedicated stations have to be suspended for replacing or renewing the LPG storage tanks and the filling facilities as well as carrying out renovation works in the station.
Renovation works for the dedicated stations at Marsh Road in Wan Chai, Sham Mong Road in Mei Foo and Yip Wong Road in Tuen Mun are now in progress, and expected to be completed in June 2023. The EMSD will announce the date of resumption of operation of these dedicated stations in due course.
(4) There are now four non-dedicated stations on Lantau Island, of which three are in Tung Chung and one in Chek Lap Kok, providing a total of 20 LPG filling nozzles. They are sufficient to meet the demand of refilling service of 75 Lantau LPG taxis and seven LPG green minibuses operating in that area. For other non-Lantau taxis, they can choose to refill at stations outside Lantau Island, such as the dedicated stations in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:30
Issued at HKT 12:30