HOLY WEEK FUEL PRICE HIKE LOOMS

MANILA, APRIL 19, 2011 
(BULLETIN)
By ELLSON A. QUISMORIO - So much for hopes of a fuel rollback this Holy Week.

Instead of a price cut, consumers may very well get more of the same this week – another hike in the prices of local petroleum products, albeit a small one, at least according to one executive from the oil industry.

“We project a P0.35 to P0.50 hike tomorrow (Tuesday),” said the oil company executive when asked yesterday which direction domestic prices were going to take this week, which will cover the Lenten break.

The unpleasant forecast from the oil official, who requested not to be named, came a few days after Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Jose Rene Almendras raised the possibility of a price reduction this week.

“Unfortunately that is not the case,” said the source from the oil industry.

Almendras, it was recalled, cited the slight decrease in international prices during the previous week as basis for the rollback forecast. Sought for comment, representatives of oil companies said it was best to wait until last Friday to see the clear trend in world market numbers.

Yesterday, the same source said the DoE changed its tune and was now expecting a “less than P1 increase” on pump prices.

If it pushes through, the projected increase Tuesday would be the fourth straight since the last week of March. Oil firms said they would issue an advisory later in the day.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Gas, diesel prices expected to climb again this week by Alena Mae S. Flores

OIL companies are expected to raise pump prices by 50 to 70 centavos a liter this week following the continuing increase in world crude prices, industry sources said over the weekend.

“Our computations show that [the increase] will be around 50 centavos to 70 centavos per liter,” one of the sources said.

Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug said oil prices would go up again this week but could not say by how much.

“It will still likely go up, but we don’t see another spike like the previous week,” Layug said.

Dubai crude went up to $116 a barrel on April 14 from $111 to $115 the previous week.

Imported unleaded gasoline fetched $129 a barrel from $124 to $128 a week ago. Diesel went up to $140 a barrel on Thursday from $130 to $137.

The oil firms have already raised prices by P1.50 a liter since April 12.

Diesel is now being sold at P46.45 to P49 a liter, and gasoline at P53.60 to P60.81.

Gasoline prices have increased by P7.85 a liter, and diesel by P9.60, since the start of the year.

Layug said the government was prepared to take over Shell’s compressed natural gas stations in Biñan, Laguna, and Tabangao in Batangas to ensure efficient fuel distribution to transport operators.

Shell agreed to put up the stations in 2008 using the output from the Malampaya gas field, but the Laguna station has been beset by technical problems.

“I don’t think the stations are income-generating for Shell. They are not earning from them,” Layug said.

He said the government could switch technologies and rely on imported liquefied natural gas to fuel public transport buses rather than use natural gas from Malampaya.

The government aims to bring the number of public transport buses running on compressed natural gas to 1,000 from only 61 now. Of the 61, only 35 actually run on compressed natural gas because the fuel is not readily available.

PNOC Exploration Corp. had earlier set aside P400 million over the next two years to build more natural gas stations. A new station in Batangas is expected to begin operations in October to serve the buses plying the Batangas-Edsa route.

The state-owned company also plans to build a gas station at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City to bring the fuel closer to Metro Manila bus operators.

On Friday, the government said it would begin stockpiling fuel to build up its emergency reserves as unrest continued in the oil-producing Middle East and North Africa

President Benigno Aquino III said the first shipment of about 50 million liters pf diesel for the state-run Philippine National Oil Co. was due to arrive in May.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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