Laos Sees Renewed Fuel Shortages as Pumps Shut Down in Vientiane Capital

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A PTT Petrol Station in Vientiane Capital
A PTT Petrol Station in Vientiane Capital (Photo: PTT Don Koy)

Social media users across Vientiane Capital began reporting closed petrol stations today as Laos looks to be headed back into fuel shortages.

Many have begun to wonder if the government’s stopgap line of credit, provided to the Lao National State Fuel Enterprise in late June, has already run dry.

Minister of Finance, Mr. Bounchom Oubonpaseuth, announced the line of credit to a round of applause during a National Assembly session on 15 June.  He said that his ministry would guarantee a fuel supply to last through June, July, and August.

But reports given to the media suggest that Laos requires approximately 120 million liters per month to meet public demand, while the line of credit provided to the state fuel company amounted to only 200 million liters.

A recent tourism boom driven by curious Thais has provided some hope for Laos, but its deep economic problems have yet to be resolved.

The country took several drastic measures in recent months to try to stabilize its macro economy, reshuffling key government positions including the head of the central bank, and cracking down on illegal currency traders.

These actions prevented the Lao kip from dropping further in value, but inflation and high prices remain an issue, with the poorest members of society struggling to make ends meet.

The future remains uncertain, but renewed fuel shortages are certain to place an even greater strain on a population already struggling to cope with a dual outbreak of dengue fever and Covid-19.