China will allow just an additional 600,000 tons of refined oil to be imported by private oil wholesalers in 2009, bringing the annual quota to 11.25 million tons for the year, China Business News
reported, citing Ministry of Commerce figures. Chen Xiuzhi, a senior economist with the China Logistics Information Center, said the cap was likely to be boosted only slightly every year because the government had little control over private operators once the oil products were in the country. “The government can only control PetroChina and Sinopec but it cannot intervene with private oil operators,” Chen said. It was recently reported that the number of private oil sellers in China has decreased from a peak of 660 to just over 100, and that one-third of the country’s 45,000 privately owned petrol stations have been forced to close due to the rising gap between crude on the international market and government-set price caps on refined oil products sold domestically.