The Ministry of Commerce yesterday launched a petroleum mobile lab to detect fraud and cheating at petrol stations and ensure fair competition.
The lab, under the authority of CamControl, will drive across the country, starting from Phnom Penh.
The ministry said each province would have a petroleum lab in the future.
Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said introduction of the lab comes after complaints to the ministry over cheating in the sale of petrol and diesel at a few stations.
The lab would make spot checks at every station that is registered legally and stations that received a licence from registered companies as retailers.
Particular attention would be given to stations that customers have complained about.
“So far, we have received complaints from petroleum stations, mostly owned by foreigners, over the standard of petroleum sales and unfair competition,” Mr Sorasak said.
“By launching the lab, we create fair competition and fair play in the investment environment for foreign companies.”
Petrol station owners cheating customers would have their licences withdrawn after three warnings.
Stations on the outskirts of the city and in the provinces were targets for checks because customers did not know about the problems, Mr Sorasak said. However, bottled gas would not be tested.
Ministry spokesman Soeng Sophary said: “For petroleum stations, particularly international standard and brand stations, we are not worried much because they are serious about standards.
“They sell quality fuel, according to international standards, and the percentage of cheating is low.
“We are concerned over the stations – so called depos – because some of them do not follow company standards, so the percentage cheating customers is high,” she said.
Kim Sameoun, deputy general director of Savimex petrol stations, said stations run by private owners have a percentage of fraud in sales.
“The main stations follow the standard of sales in the market, but private stations that use the names of petroleum companies mostly don’t follow the standard, by cheating in quantities or using poor quality supplies and telling customers they are high quality ones,” Mr Sameoun said.
“I believe that companies always advise the private stations that use their names not to cheat customers and sell according to the prerequisite standards.”
Huong Sunhin, station section manager at the PTT petrol station chain, welcomed the move.
“It is good as our company has always wanted to see the petroleum lab create fair competition in the market,” Mr Sunhin said. “Companies should compete in service and quality.”
PTT uses its own labs to carry out checks at 39 stations across the country to ensure the quality of its fuel, Mr Sunhin said.
Last year, Cambodia exported 2.2 million tonnes of petroleum, of which 391,000 tonnes was petrol, according to figures provided by the Commerce Ministry.