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Time For Answers Over Gas Deal

Michael Chugani, SCMP – Sep 03, 2008

Something stinks about this whole business of the government signing a gas deal with the mainland so CLP Power (SEHK: 0002) won’t have to build its eyesore terminal on South Soko Island. And the stink is coming from both sides. There are so many unanswered questions over whether or not to build the terminal that it makes you wonder what the big boys in government and CLP Power are up to, and if the people have become pawns.

For starters, why did CLP insist the only way to ensure gas supplies was to build the terminal, which would have meant higher electricity bills for consumers? Was CLP trying to fatten profits? The government has now proved it is possible to buy cheap gas from the mainland using a much shorter, less expensive pipeline. What does that say about CLP’s claim that it had to buy from abroad using a much longer, less environmentally friendly pipeline? To justify its Sokos terminal, CLP insisted that gas from the Yacheng field off Hainan was running out. But the government has secured a 20-year supply from Yacheng. Was CLP trying to dupe us?

Why did the government keep the mainland deal secret all this time and then suddenly spring it on us after it was signed and sealed, yet all the while making us believe CLP’s Sokos proposal was still alive and kicking? Did CLP know about the government’s talks with the mainland? If yes, why did it still waste time chasing the Sokos plan? If no, why did the government sit back and watch CLP chase the plan, knowing it would be dead on arrival?

All these questions need answers simply because the government continues to give CLP a monopoly which allows the company to maximise profits by building more plants.

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