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(UPDATE 5) Oil firms to cut prices by P0.50-P1/ liter Friday

Posted by Abi Kwok on September 18, 2008

Transport group dissastisfied

By Abigail Kwok, Abigail L. Ho, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08:40:00 09/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Good news for motorists this weekend as both major and independent oil players have announced another round of oil price rollbacks as a result of the continuous decline in world crude prices.

Major oil players Pilipinas Shell, Petron Corporation, and Chevron Philippines (formerly Caltex) have announced a P1 per liter cutback on its diesel, kerosene, and gasoline products effective 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Shell made the announcement through its vice president for communications Roberto Kanapi, Petron through its spokesperson Virginia Ruivivar, and Chevron through communications manager Toby Nebrida.

Eastern Petroleum will also be implementing another P0.50 per liter rollback on the same oil products at 12:01 a.m. Friday, bringing the independent oil player’s total rollback this week to P1 per liter, said its president Fernando Martinez.

On Wednesday, Eastern Petroleum and SeaOil Philippines implemented a P0.50 per liter rollback on the same products.

Despite of this, militant transport group Piston (Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide) maintained its call for a one-time rollback to bring down local diesel prices to just P44 per liter. Secretary general George San Mateo also criticized the recent rollbacks, saying these were an “insult” to the motorists as oil companies remained “cheap” in implementing cut backs.

“Malinaw na nandadaya sa presyuhan ang mga oil companies at gayundin ay may pananagutan ang gobyerno sa pandadaya sa presyo ng mga [It is clear that these oil companies are cheating and the government has a responsibility to check this from the] oil companies,” said George San Mateo, Piston secretary general.

San Mateo also accused oil companies of “manipulating” local prices and warned of another nationwide transport strike if their demands were not met.

The oil companies all cited the continued softening of world oil prices as the reason for the price reduction — the eighth since August for gasoline for a total of P9.50 a liter, and the seventh for diesel and kerosene for a total of P7.50 a liter.

According to data from the Department of Energy, the regional benchmark Dubai crude had significantly dropped to a September 1-16 average of $100.21 a barrel, from $112.86 a barrel in August.

The price of unleaded gasoline based on the Mean of Platts Singapore benchmark for refined petroleum products plunged to an average of $108.98 a barrel in the first 16 days of September, against the August average of $115.49 a barrel.

MOPS-based diesel also fell to an average price of $122.83 a barrel as of September 16, from the $135.26-a-barrel average posted last month.

With this price reduction, pump prices of premium unleaded gasoline now ranged from P50.25-P51.85 a liter, diesel from P47.95-P50.09 a liter, and kerosene from P52.36-P55.80 a liter.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said all indications pointed to more rollbacks in the coming weeks, but that this would still be dependent on whether or not the softening oil price trend would be sustained and how the peso would react against the dollar.

The peso had already breached the P47:$1 mark, amid concerns over the United States financial crisis.

In a separate interview, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said local fuel prices should still go down by P5 a liter before the year ends, saying “international prices are easing.’

With a report from Joel Guinto

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