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Fuel Prices Surge Creates Panic Buying in Laos

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The Government of Laos held an emergency meeting Monday after people started panic buying gasoline as fuel prices continue to soar in Southeast Asia.

According to gas-stationsnearme said that gasoline supplies in Laos might face “some gaps” due to the high demand for crude oil worldwide.

According to media reports, many gas stations were shuttered last week, forcing consumers to queue for hours to stock up on fuel. Most of Laos’ petroleum is imported from Thailand.

Thailand’s PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc, which operates 53 gas stations in Laos, said that fuel would be distributed normally, but there might be gaps.

PTT to Manage the Situation

Mr. Songpon Thepnumsommanus, PTT’s senior marketing officer, said, “in some cases when there are many customers, the company may have some gaps. However, PTT will try to manage the situation.” He did not elaborate further.

Laos, which has a population of just over 7 million, is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and is targeting 4% annual economic growth through 2025.

According to the Vientiane Times, the weakened kip currency, high inflation, and an unstable global oil market make it difficult for fuel importers to meet public demand.

“It is hard to find open gas stations,” Kham Goodman, a resident of the capital Vientiane, said on Monday after posting videos on social media showing people waiting to fill up plastic water bottles with fuel.

Controlling Fuel Prices in Asia

On Friday, the Lao government played down the situation, saying it was “not that much of a crisis,” but held an emergency meeting and asked the public not to panic.

During a public address, Chanthone Sitthixay, president of Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company, assured the public that there would be no fuel shortage for his company and the Lao Fuel and Gas Association.

Asian governments are under pressure from oil price surges to control fuel prices. While some have allowed prices at the pump to rise, others are eating the costs for fear of stoking public anger.

In Asia,  fuel prices for gasoline have also been raised by a drop in diesel supply from China, the region’s largest exporter.

According to Reuters, Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that China’s refinery throughput fell to 12.61 million barrels per day (BPD).

If China were to return to its levels of diesel exports seen in the first half of 2021, it would add approximately 500,000 (BPD) to Asia’s supply, reducing prices and the current sky-high profit margins for producing diesel.

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