MANILA, MAY 18, 2008
(STAR) By Donnabelle Gatdula - Petroleum companies raised yesterday pump prices by another P1 per liter for gasoline products.

However, diesel products were hiked by only 50 centavos per liter.

Petron Corp. and Total Philippines Inc. also increased their liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) products by 50 centavos per kilo.

For the past three weeks, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. has not been sending price movement advisory to the media despite a request from the Department of Energy (DOE) to inform the public before any price adjustment is carried out.

According to Petron, the latest oil price hike is to reflect the surge in international prices.

As of May 17, average Dubai crude, the benchmark being used by local oil refiners Petron and Shell, increased by $12 per barrel to $115.46 from $103.41 per barrel.

Meanwhile, LPG contract prices have increased by $42.50 per metric ton to $852.50 per MT in May.

Based on DOE monitoring, world oil prices sustained their daily record-breaking run last week, sending Dubai crude, gasoline and diesel spot prices higher by about $7 per barrel, $5 per barrel, $4 per barrel, respectively, over their previous week averages.

The fresh record highs were said to have been brought by geopolitical unrest in Nigeria and key producers in Middle East, according to the DOE.

The keen interest in the oil market by investment funds, which are being attracted by oil’s rapid price appreciation, likely explains the higher movements these last few days.

Since the start of 2008, world oil prices have rocketed over 25 percent and have more than doubled in the past 12 months.

Analysts believe that the price hikes could also have been caused by rising energy demand from Asian powerhouse economies China and India. China’s imports of oil and oil products were very high in March.

According to preliminary data from China’s General Administration of Customs, the country’s crude oil imports for April totaled 104 million barrels, lower than the 126.3 million barrels imported in March.

Meanwhile, economists viewed that the combination of rising global demand, fairly normal seasonal inventory patterns, slow gains in non-OPEC supply, and low levels of available surplus production capacity as providing firm support for prices.

Early this week, oil prices dipped from last week’s record highs but held above $125 per barrel on tensions in the crude-rich Middle East and ongoing supply fears in Nigeria.

It was also noted that oil prices were a little lower following some profit taking after crude futures hit fresh record highs at the end of last week.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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