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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fuel imports down, value up

Fuel imports down, value up

THE value of Cambodia’s imports of petroleum products surged 31 percent over the first six months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, despite import volumes that declined more than 13 percent in the same period, according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce’s Camcontrol department.

Imports of petroleum products totalled US$297 million to the end of July this year, a 31.77 percent increase on the $225 million in the same period of 2009, the report shows.

Industry insiders said the rising price of imports of petroleum products came as oil prices increased on global markets.

Light sweet crude averaged $78.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange during the first six months of 2010, a 52 percent increase on the $51.45 per barrel for oil futures during the same period last year, according to statistics from the US energy information administration.

As oil prices increased on international markets, Cambodian importer PTT’s business division manager Bin Many Mialia estimated, the firm’s imports decreased by between 10 and 20 percent in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period last year.

The Kingdom’s deal with Vietnam to import electricity earlier this year had slowed domestic petroleum imports, he said.

“Cambodia is importing electricity from neighbouring countries, leading Electricite du Cambodge to import less fuel to produce electricity,” he said.

Cambodia imported 440,607 tonnes of petroleum products in the first half of 2010, a 13.54 percent decrease from 509,660 tonnes last year, according to the Camcontrol report, obtained on Friday.

Cambodia imported a range of petroleum-based products, including cooking fuels as well as petrol and diesel, and Camcontrol’s figures had not separated the different types of petroleum products, making it difficult to comment on the dip in import volumes, he said.

“We don’t know for sure what kind of petroleum imports decreased because Camcontrol did not specify,” he said. “If we knew, we could easily analyse the drop.”

Bin Many Mialia declined to release the exact size of PTT’s imports during the period.

Officials at Sokimex – a firm that claims to control 30 percent of domestic retail fuel sales – said international crude prices directly affected its import business.

“We know oil prices have fluctuated this year because we mainly rely on the global market [for purchases],” Sokimex deputy director Heu Heng said.

Cambodia has six large petrol retail vendors, including Tela, Caltex, Total, Sokimex, PTT, Bright Victory, and approximately 47 separate private stations, according to Camcontrol’s report.

Camcontrol director Mak Pichrith was not available for comment on Friday.

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