Vietnam needs to make fuel market more competitive: official

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Vietnam's fuel market needs to be restructured to ease the dominance of Petrolimex, the top oil products distributor, says Finance Minister Vuong Dinh Hue.

"In the long term we need to think about reorganizing the market by giving opportunities to other distributors," Hue said in an interview published in the Vietnam Economic Times Saturday.

Companies like Saigon Petro and PV Oil have to be stronger and hold a larger market share, he said.

Vietnam's demand for oil products increases every year, by between four and five million tons, and fuel distributors can aim at this opportunity, he said.

"Even Petrolimex needs to consider restructuring in a way that faciliates competition," Hue said.

He also said local fuel prices have been quite stable this year compared to the global market. Retail prices were adjusted four times, with two increases in February and March and two price cuts in August and October.

The Ministry of Finance in Septemter launched an inspection into pricing at major fuel traders, including Petrolimex and PV Oil.

The move came after a heated debate between government officials over whether Petrolimex, the largest fuel trader with a market share of around 60 percent, was making profit or losses and whether the price hikes earlier this year were acceptable.

Speaking at a National Assembly session last week, Hue said findings from the inspection will be announced soon.

He said Petrolimex has made profits over the past three years, but if only fuel sales are taken into consideration the company has actually incurred losses.

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