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Oil Shock Fear Forcing Stronger Gov`t Action

Posted July. 07, 2008 09:01,   


The public sector from today will shift to emergency mode in energy conservation in the wake of rising fear over Korea facing its third oil shock.

For the first time since the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the government and other public organizations will implement a driving reduction program from July 15.

Under the plan, vehicles with plate numbers ending in an odd number can only enter public buildings on dates ending in an odd number, and the same goes for those ending in an even number. The rule will also apply to visitors.

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo made the decision in a Cabinet meeting at his Seoul office yesterday. He said the first phase of emergency measures for oil price hikes will proceed if the spot price of Dubai crude exceeds 140 dollars per barrel.

The “odd-even” driving program will be enforced in 819 organizations, including ministries, government agencies, provincial authorities, educational facilities and public organizations.

Other energy conservation measures include a 30-percent cut in official vehicle operations; control of indoor temperatures; reduced elevator operations; a ban on exterior lighting at public facilities; and more streetlights being turned off.

“There is concern that we are facing a third oil shock,” Prime Minister Han said in his opening remarks. “Energy conservation is not an option but a must for our survival.”

The phased management measures were slated to take effect if Dubai crude surpassed 150 dollars per barrel. After the price reached 140.70 dollars Friday, however, the government advanced the schedule.

Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo said, “The measures will be recommended to the private sector in the first phase. When the international price of oil reaches 170 dollars per barrel, the second phase will begin.”

“Certain measures will be applied to the private sector, including the odd-even driving program, reduced operating hours for big energy consumers, and control of elevator use.”

A new national emergency committee for energy crisis comprising the public and private sector will also review enforcement of energy measures and oil supply. The prime minister and a private sector figure will jointly chair the committee.

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