North Korea crisis: Petrol prices spike 83% in Pyongyang

26 Apr 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

The price of petrol has spiked by 83% in Pyongyang, according to expert group NK News.

It said the price spike on petrol and diesel had affected sales. It follows "rumours China had been considering a halt of all crude oil sales to" North Korea.

There is unverifiable speculation that China is getting tough on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

In context: Petrol prices spike in North Korea

21 Apr 2017North Korea tensions: China places bombers on "high alert"

An American defense official said the Chinese military is preparing to respond to a possible situation in North Korea.

The US has seen a number of Chinese air force land-attack, cruise-missile-capable bombers being placed on "high alert" and full combat readiness through intensified maintenance.

The Chinese actions could increase risks of armed conflict amid heightened regional tensions following North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests.

Frustrated China China's actions indicate its growing frustration with North Korea

The Chinese military's actions are meant to "reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency," the US official said.

This comes a day after the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country was "gravely concerned" about North Korea's recent nuclear and missile tests.

China is considered the North's sole ally.

The developments indicate China's growing frustrations with the North's Kim Jong-un regime.

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26 Apr 2017North Korea crisis: Petrol prices spike 83% in Pyongyang

Motorists scramble to fill tanks, huge queues outside petrol pumps

Foreigners in Pyongyang witnessed vehicle owners scrambling to fill up their tanks. Petrol pumps have either shut down entirely or limited sale. Supplies were reportedly limited to only diplomats or cars used by international organizations at one petrol pump. Queues have been longer than usual.

DetailsFor US, China is key to solving North Korea situation

Nearly 85% of North Korea's economic trade is dependent on China.

The US believes: "China has never exerted maximum leverage on the Kim regime."

The current Donald Trump administration believes Beijing has the potential to exert its influence to get Pyongyang to curb its nuclear and missile activities.

This was evident when Trump commended Chinese President Xi Jinping for Beijing's efforts on North Korea.

Possible reasons?Why are oil prices surging in North Korea?

North Korea doesn't produce any of its oil and is dependent almost entirely on China.

It's possible that North Korea's privileged few car owners have decided to stock up petrol amid fears of a Chinese oil crack down, prompting the price hike.

It's also possible that the military has demanded more supplies due to escalating local tensions. Or there could be a supply glitch.

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DetailsChina had stopped oil supplies to North Korea in 2003

In 2003, China shut down oil supplies to North Korea, just three days after a missile launch.

While China blamed a mechanical failure, there were suspicions that China was reminding the North about where its oil comes from.

"The objective is to send a credible signal that would make the North Korean leadership think twice," an American expert said.

North Korea is irritated with China

A commentary posted on a North Korean state news site warned that a "neighbouring country," largely a reference to China, "will certainly face a catastrophe in their bilateral relationship as long as it continues to apply economic sanctions together with the United States".