Stations keep pumping

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Stations keep pumping

The Korea Oil Station Association (Kosa), which represents 12,600 gas stations, early yesterday postponed the shutdown of 3,029 stations to June 24 after negotiations with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy ended at 2 a.m.

On Monday, Kosa announced the closures to protest government policy that requires stations to report their gasoline transactions weekly instead of monthly starting in July.

The energy ministry says the new policy is designed to reduce instances of consumer fraud involving manipulated gasoline volume and content.

In an attempt to avert the shutdown, which would not have included thrifty or refiner-run gas stations, Kosa and the ministry negotiated for 10 hours starting Wednesday afternoon. However, they failed to find common ground.

No additional meetings have been scheduled, but Kosa said it will try to arrange at least one more session.

Kosa has been claiming that filing weekly reports would be too burdensome for station owners. The association wants to delay implementation of the regulation for two years and reportedly was willing to settle for one year in the negotiations that ended yesterday.

However, the energy ministry has not budged on a July 1 start, although it has offered to not fine violators for six months after implementation.

The energy ministry wants the Korea Petroleum Quality and Distribution Authority to process the weekly reports, but Kosa wants to keep the current system where gas station owners report to Kosa, which passes on the information to the quality and distribution agency.

The government had released a statement saying that owners who closed their gas stations would be punished in accordance with the law.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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