Vietnam to auction gasoline from reserves, power outage hits refinery

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  • Biggest refinery operating at 55-60% of capacity
  • Fuel price at record high on soaring global prices
  • Vietnam ramps up petroleum imports in Feb

HANOI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Vietnam will auction 100 million litres (26.4 million gallons) of gasoline from its national reserves, state media reported on Tuesday, as a supply shortage enters its second month.

The Southeast Asian country has had to tap into its fuel reserves since its largest refinery cut production last month due to a disagreement between shareholders over financing for crude oil procurement.

A source familiar with Nghi Son refinery's operations, who declined to be identified, said it would not resume full production at least until the end of April, later than the mid-March target announced by the trade and industry ministry earlier this month.

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The 200,000 barrel-per-day refinery is currently operating at 55-60% of capacity. It typically meets a third of Vietnam's needs.

A power outage hit the refinery on Monday, forcing some of its units to shut down, two sources familiar with the matter said late on Tuesday, without elaborating.

On Monday, Vietnam raised its RON92 gasoline price by 3.9% to a record high 25,530 dong ($1.12) per litre, amid a global surge in energy prices.

In a bid to reassure businesses and consumers, the industry ministry has said it would ensure sufficient petroleum supplies for domestic use.

Trading firms have increased fuel imports and other refineries have ramped up production, it said.

Vietnam imported 803,000 cubic metres of petroleum products in the first half of February, a significant jump from an average monthly amount of 500,000 cubic metres, government data showed.

The planned auction of the RON92 gasoline will take place later this month, at a starting price of 14,058 dong per litre, several state newspapers reported, citing the industry ministry.

($1 = 22,810 dong)

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Reporting by Khanh Vu Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Mark Potter

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