Gas retail prices go up on speculation, retailer interference

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Speculation and manipulation by retailers are among several factors behind the rise in cooking gas prices by VND30,000-40,000 per kilogram over the last week, experts say.

Tran Minh Loan, chairman of the Anpha S.G Petrol Company, said the local prices still depend on world gas prices, as local supplies meet just over 40 percent of the demand.

World prices, meanwhile, are going up due to increasing industrial demand as economies recover and demand for fuel increases in winter, he said.

In Vietnam, importers are also influenced by dong's fall against US dollar, and this also is price-increasing factor, Loan said.

A gas retailer on Hanoi's Nguyen Duc Canh Street on Sunday announced a Vinashin 12-kilogram cooking gas cylinder costs VND270,000, increasing by VND30,000 from one week ago. A Shell Gas cylinder has also gone up from VND270,000 ten days ago to VND290,000.

Meanwhile, Thai Van Chuc, board chairman of Vietnam Oil & Gas Materials and Equipment Joint-stock Company, said retailers were responsible for the price hike.

When some brands increase their prices, retailers who often sell a variety of brands will also raise the prices of others to make profit, Chuc explained.

Tran Viet Tuan, vice chairman of Gas Association, estimated that gas is imported at less than VND18,000 per kilogram, or some VND223,000 per 12-kilogram cylinder.

Importers then sell at some VND235,000 per cylinder to retailers, and the latter finally increases the price to between VND270,000-300,000 per cylinder, Tuan noted.

In fact, PetroVietnam Gas, which Tuan's company, Tan An Binh, distributes, is priced at VND228,000 for retailers, yet it is now sold between VND285,000-290,000 to end users, he said.

On November 26, the Government issued a decree banning a gas retailer from selling more than three gas brands and regulating that they will be controlled by suppliers in terms of prices from January 15 next year.

Chuc warned of the possibility of gas scarcity, saying unstable prices may discourage companies from importing gas for fear that prices will fall further and inflict heavy losses on them, Chuc said.

Unless the government steps in and orders major gas companies under its control to import gas, gas prices may keep increasing, Chuc stressed.

On the other hand, Loan from Anpha Company didn't expect gas prices to go through dramatic changes until the very end of the year.

The prices may go down slightly instead, as world prices have increased over the past four months, so it might be due for a fall, Loan said. Speculators might also sell their goods when the prices are high at present, and the increased supply could see prices fall a bit, he added.

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