(Yicai Global) March 5 -- A unit of China Petrochemical & Chemical, or Sinopec, the country's biggest oil major, started selling 30,000 disposable masks a day at its gas stands two days ago.
Consumers can place orders through Sinopec's Easy Joy Refueling app and pick up their masks at any of Beijing Oil Products' 50 service stations, the unit said via its official WeChat account yesterday. Each buyer is limited to one box of 10 a week, with each mask priced at CNY3.50 (USD0.50).
Since government guidelines set prices, the company is not profiting from the sales, Sinopec said in response to charges of price gouging, adding it does not make the masks and is merely the vendor. Any price differential goes to defray the costs of masks donated to public sector employees such as sanitation workers and police, it explained, and the petrochemical giant will timely lower the retail price based on adjustments to government pricing standards.
The subsidiary will gradually increase the number of masks available for purchase based on growing supply as production accelerates, it said.
Sinopec has also jacked up its output of the upstream raw material polypropylene and opened production lines for mask core material meltblown fabric, which forms the center layer of face masks and is the key portion that traps virus-bearing droplets. Sinopec helped its partners finish 11 mask production lines by Feb. 8, which are expected to add to daily output by over 1 million units by March 10.
Sinopec's Easy Jet convenience stores located in its 6,100-plus gas stands in 147 prefectural-level cities across China also temporarily added vegetables to their retail shelves after the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.
Editor: Ben Armour