The Korea Herald


Ministry denies report on fuel import from Japan


Published : Aug. 11, 2011 - 19:31

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Officials at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy denied news reports that the government is considering importing petroleum products including gasoline from Japan in a bid to slash fuel prices.

“We have no knowledge of petrol imports or any examination underway,” a ministry official told The Korea Herald.

Earlier in the day, the Yonhap news agency reported that the Ministry of Environment started studying early this month whether it can adjust the environmental standards to legalize imports and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy is assessing the impact of the potential modification.

To enable imports, Korea needs to change the current regulations because Korea and Japan impose different standards for the composition of gasoline.

For instance, Japanese and Korean products contain the same amount of sulfur, but differ in the proportion of oxygen and olefin, making impossible to use Japanese petrol here.

The report comes on the heels of the government’s push to keep fuel prices under control, which have exacerbated up inflationary pressures.

Despite a recent decline amid concerns about the global economy, Korea’s benchmark Dubai has hovered well above $100 a barrel since political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East early this year.

Consumer prices topped 2,300 won ($2.13) per liter at some stations in Seoul.

The country’s four major refiners ― SK Innovation, GS Caltex, S-Oil and Hyundai Oilbank ― cut prices of gasoline and diesel by 100 won per liter between April and June under growing government and public pressure.

In late July, Minister Choi Joong-kyung upped the ante by introducing a plan to set up state-run “alternative gas stations” that sell gas at lower prices.

The world’s fifth-largest crude importer imported of 77.7 million barrels of crude in July, up 13 percent from a year earlier, according to the economy ministry.

Retail prices on Thursday fell for five consecutive days to 1,951 won per liter, down 60 won a day before, according to state-run Korean national Oil Corporation.

By Shin Hyon-hee (