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State-owned coal, oil producers urged to response to COVID-19

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has requested state-owned coal and oil-gas producers to develop plans and measures to response to impact of the acute respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The ministry asked the Vietnam National Coal – Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin) and the military-run Dong Bac Corporation to get ready for the negative impact of the epidemic, saying they must prepare sufficient personnel, equipment and supplies for coal production and distribution, and to ensure stable supply for their customers, especially power producers.

It also ordered the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) to keep a close watch on the global market developments and take proper measures to cope with falling crude oil prices as a result of the epidemic.

After the epidemic began spreading, the Brent crude oil price plunged from around 65 USD per barrel to 57 USD per barrel on February 17, lower than the assumption of 60 USD per barrel in the State budget estimate for this year.

The three companies must also speed up their key coal and oil production projects and immediately report any major difficulties and bottlenecks to authorised representatives of the State capital ownership to get timely directions.

Vietnam’s coal imports have been on a rise over the past few years, mostly used for coal-fired power plants.

According to Vinacomin, the country imported about 36.82 million tonnes of coal in the first 10 months of last year, up 112.3 percent from the same period of 2018. China was among Vietnam’s four largest coal suppliers, together with Indonesia, Australia and Russia.

Under national Power Development Plan VII, a total of 60,000 MW is expected to be generated in Vietnam by 2020, with coal-fired plants accounting for 42.7 percent, followed by hydropower (30.1 percent), gas-fired plants (14.9 percent), and renewables (9.9 percent).