Dung Quat refinery audit begins

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The State Audit of Vietnam Friday began examining the financial situation and compliance with regulations of the Dung Quat oil refinery, the nation's first facility of its type.

The 80-day audit will look into the plant's funds and investment costs as well as its compliance with laws as of December 31, 2010, the central auditing agency said.

It said the audit aims to unearth wastage, wrongdoing and corruption, if any, at the refinery.

Vuong Dinh Hue, head of the agency, said it was the biggest ever auditing project that his office has handled.

The Dung Quat oil refinery officially opened in early January this year, nearly two years after the plant first started commercial operations in the central province of Quang Ngai.

Run by the Binh Son Refinery & PetroChemical Co., a unit of state-owned PetroVietnam, Dung Quat produces 130,500 barrels of oil products per day.

In related news, some gas companies including MT Gas, SP Gas, and Vinagas Saturday raised the price of retail cooking gas (LPG - liquid petroleum gas) by VND14,000 (US$0.7) per 12-kilogram cylinder, saying they were importing gas at high prices to offset a shortage of the fuel gas following a temporary shutdown at Dung Quat.

The refinery was closed on March 23 for equipment checks. It plans to resume operations two to three weeks later.

However, the Tuoi Tre newspaper cited many industry insiders as saying that the shortage of fuel caused by Dung Quat's shutdown was too small to affect gas prices.

The paper also quoted Nguyen Si Thang, chairman of the Vietnam Gas Association, as saying that he will call on the association's members not to increase prices until April when new import prices are introduced.

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