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Rumor Fuels Beijing Gas Panic

Convinced of imminent increases in the price of oil, some Beijingers have rushed to local filling stations for gas coupons.

China National Petrochemical Corporation (SINOPEC) issues gas coupons that can be redeemed in the future at today's prices. 

Local media reported that at some filling stations drivers queued to buy coupons over the weekend after rumors of an impending price jump.

"Oil prices on the international market have continued to rise since early this month. According to common practice, domestic oil prices will go up as well," Li Xuan, a motorist in Beijing, said yesterday.

However, according to sources with the Beijing Municipal Commission for Development and Reform, they have not received any news of price changes from authorities and there will be no price hike in the near future.

"It is unnecessary for local residents to swarm to buy coupons for oil," an expert from SINOPEC told the Beijing Morning Post whilst pointing out that the international oil price is a price on paper, rather than a real price of gas.

It is speculation on the international market that pushes the price of crude oil higher than its cost price, according to the expert, who also predicted that it will decrease in the future.

SINOPEC expects to introduce a cleaner fuel onto the market that will be 0.06 yuan (0.7 US cents) more expensive per liter than ordinary gas.

Some Beijing residents have feared that they will not be able to buy ordinary gas after the introduction of the clean fuel, but sources within SINOPEC say customers will be able to choose between different fuels.

(China Daily October 18, 2004)

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