Thursday, December 2, 2010

China's diesel shortage

Anywhere you drive in China (or at least, Sichuan, which is where I have personal experience), there are huge lines of trucks, with the occasional car thrown in, waiting at gas stations. At first we thought "strange, we had no trouble getting gas". Then we realized it was only trucks and buses. Odd. And that most gas stations have signs saying "no diesel". Ah, that answers that question. There is a shortage of diesel.

At first we thought it was only in Aba - the roads are bad, so maybe people can't get the diesel up here - but then the lines were in Chengdu too. Couldn't be that. We heard there was a shortage of fuel from local friends, but no one knew why.

Then when we were in Chengdu we discovered the reason. It's so spectacularly Chinese I can't believe it. What happened is this:

1) The government set a goal for coal usage for the year
2) People used too much coal (maybe they are getting richer and buying more space heaters and air con heaters and just generally running more electricity to make the winter more comfortable? central heat could potentially help with this issue)
3) The government said "we can't use any more coal, we already reached the projections for this year"
4) The power plants decided to use diesel instead
5) There is no diesel for the trucks to transport goods

So what is number 6? What is the next shortage that will happen because someone decided that enough was enough with the coal? Is this the reason we have flickering lights in our flat? Has someone thought to actually have some energy saving practices in place (like efficient heat, insulation, and other such ideas)?

What a crazy country. My toes are cold. This is the first time all day (other than at the gym) that I didn't have on a beanie and down jacket. And our flat is relatively warm. Uck. I really am looking forward to owning my own home and putting in efficient ways to keep it warm.

a :)

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