Ethanol gasoline E5 (A92-RON petrol containing 5% ethanol) will be sold at all filling stations in HCM City beginning on December 31, according to the city's Department of Industry and Trade.
Speaking at a meeting to review the sale of E5 in the last 12 months, Le Ngoc Dao, the Department's Deputy Director, said the city had nine fuel wholesalers with six general agents and 518 retail petrol stations.
The city is among seven localities, including Hanoi, Haiphong, Danang, Can Tho, and the provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Quang Ngai, that are implementing the pilot supply of E5 fuel by the Government.
In November last year, 58 petrol stations began selling E5 and the number rose to 262 by the end of the month, or 50.57% of total petrol stations in the city.
"Despite efforts made by the city government and enterprises, sales of E5 fuel remain low, accounting for only 4.2% of the total petrol sales in the city," she said.
The city's monthly petrol sales reached 130,100 cubic metres on average, of which A95-RON and A92-RON accounted for 33.3% and 62.5%, she said.
Consumers' consumption habits, few differences in price, and low profits of distributors contributed to the low sales of bio-fuel, she said.
Duong Van Trinh, representative of Petrolimex, one of the city's major fuel wholesalers, said the average E5 sales via his company's distribution system had increased significantly thanks to an increase in the number of petrol stations selling the fuel. But the volume of E5 sold accounted for only 7% of its total petrol sales.
"Very few people ask for E5 at gas stations selling it," he said.
Consumers were still more familiar with the use of traditional A92-RON gasoline, he said, adding that they did not understand E5's benefits.
Even though the price for a litre of E5 was VND500 lower than that of A92, sales remained sluggish, he said.
Communication work should be enhanced to raise public awareness of the benefits of E5, delegates at the meeting said.
Trinh suggested that the Government support fuel trading firms in shifting to trading the bio-fuel since they had to spend a lot on building E5 mixing facilities, he said.
Dao said the department in collaboration with other agencies would raise awareness among people about the benefits of the bio-fuel.
In addition, all fuel stations in the city must hang two banners about the benefits of E5 starting from December 24, she said.
The city had encouraged general agents and retail stations to supply E5 on schedule, she said, adding that all stations were required to have at least one pump for E5 and to gradually reduce the supply of A92 fuel.
She suggested that the Government create a preferential policy for bio-fuel production and distribution firms as well as cut the price of E5 to stimulate distribution and consumption.
Under the orders to cut retail prices of petrol from December 18 by the Ministries of Industry and Trade and Finance, the prices of E5 biofuel will be reduced by 391 VND per litre to touch their ceiling price of 15,910 VND.