South Korea raised its energy alert level in the face of soaring oil prices, a move aimed at reducing energy consumption in the country, the government said Sunday.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said it had decided to upgrade the countrys energy alert level from the current "blue" to "yellow" and adopt energy saving measures. The move came as the price of crude oil had leapt above the key 100 U.S. dollars a barrel for five consecutive days, the ministry said. South Korea relies heavily on oil imports from the Middle East to meet its energy consumption.
With the elevated alert status, public places will be required to avoid unnecessary energy consumption. The government will restrict retail outlets and apartment complexes from lighting up building exteriors and advertisements late in the night, the ministry said.
The ministry plans to impose a fine up to 3 million won (2,664 U.S. dollars) on violators after a seven-day guidance period. If oil prices surpass 130 U.S. dollars per barrel and stay for five days, the countrys energy alert level could be raised further to "orange", the second highest level, the ministry said.