Laos may face 'gaps' in gasoline supply as prices soar, major supplier says

Laos may face 'gaps' in gasoline supply as prices soar, major supplier says

Motorists queue to pump fuel into their vehicles at a PTT petrol station in Vientiane in a picture from Lao National TV taken between May -9-10. ((Laos National TV/AFP photo)
Motorists queue to pump fuel into their vehicles at a PTT petrol station in Vientiane in a picture from Lao National TV taken between May -9-10. ((Laos National TV/AFP photo)

Gasoline supplies in Laos may face "some gaps", a major supplier said on Monday, after the government held an emergency meeting to address soaring prices and panic buying in the Southeast Asian nation.

Many gas stations were shut last week, according to media reports, forcing consumers to queue for hours to stock up on fuel. Laos relies on imports from neighbouring Thailand for most of its petroleum.

Thai oil and gas firm PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc , which operates 53 gas stations in Laos, said it plans to distribute fuel as usual, but that there may be "gaps".

"In some instances where there are many customers, there may be some gaps, but we will try to manage the situation," said Songpon Thepnumsommanus, a senior marketing officer. He did not give further details.

With a population of just over 7 million people, landlocked Laos is one of the poorest countries in the region and is targeting 4% annual economic growth through to 2025.

A weakened kip currency, high inflation and an unstable global oil market are making it hard for fuel importers to meet public demand, the Vientiane Times reported last week.

"It is hard to find gas stations that are open," 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.

The Lao government on Friday 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.

"I assure you that my company and the Lao Fuel and Gas Association will provide enough fuel supplies, there will be no shortage," Chanthone Sitthixay, president of Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company, said in a public address.

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