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9 June 2010

Philippines: Fuel price hike

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Local oil firms made good on their promise to raise fuel prices this week, which they had forecast due to the recent rise in international crude prices.

Oil giant Pilipinas Shell jacked up its pump prices by P1 a liter effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The increase covered the prices of diesel, gasoline, and kerosene.

At around 6 a.m., another big oil player, Chevron Philippines (formerly Caltex) and smaller players Eastern Petroleum, Total Philippines, and Seaoil Philippines hiked their respective pump prices by the same amount.

Other oil firms have yet to announce a price adjustment as of press time. No price tweak was implemented for the first week of June.

The P1 hike likewise raised the average price of fuel in Metro Manila to as follows: P33.50 a liter for diesel; P42.50 a liter for gasoline (unleaded), and P44 a liter for kerosene.

Tuesday’s adjustment was the first hike by the oil companies since May 5 when they added P0.50 a liter to pump prices. The oil firms implemented five consecutive rollbacks for the rest of May, resulting in accumulated price reductions of P3.50 to P3.75 a liter.

Oil executives “predicted” a hike of P0.75 a liter for this week, citing the bump in international market prices.

Prices of refined petroleum products like gasoline and diesel went up by $3 a barrel last week, the oil executives said.

Reacting to the domestic price hike, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) president Efren de Luna claimed that the oil firms are now trying to recover the profits lost during the strings of cutbacks last month.

“Yan ang matagal nang gawain ng oil companies. Magbababa sila ng presyo pero mas malaki naman ang pag-increase nila,” De Luna said. (“The oil firms have been doing that for a long time. They reduce prices only to increase it further in the end.”)

Meanwhile, the Social Justice Society (SJS) said Tuesday that it would challenge before a court of law the rationale behind the latest price hike imposed by the oil companies.

This, as the SJS – a group of lawyers – continued to seek transparency in the oil industry, which it said would “liberate” the public from the question of whether fuel prices are justified.


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