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NEWS UPDATES 10 November 2009

Philippines’ petroleum product inventory falls as price cap remains   

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The country’s inventory of finished petroleum products has dropped to less than two weeks from the usual three as oil firms that do not refine crude have halted importation of gasoline and diesel due to government-imposed fuel price caps in Luzon, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

“Don’t panic. Government will not allow shortages. We don’t even have to talk about contingencies because we’re not in a problem situation yet,” Energy Secretary Angelo T Reyes Monday assured the public.

Reyes said the country’s inventory of finished petroleum products would run out after 13 days. “You cannot force private corporations to sell at a loss indefinitely. It is better that people will know. It’s not good to conceal facts from the people,” he said.

In a dialogue with oil firms, transport groups and the energy department, Reyes said the average inventory for the year was usually at least 21 days for finished products—gasoline, diesel and kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas and bunker fuel.

Reyes was referring only to his department’s estimates of the country’s inventory of imported finished petroleum products, and did not take into account the refiners’ crude oil inventory, which can later be processed into finished products.

Only Petron Corp and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. refine crude oil in the country into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products.

With the imposition of Executive Order No 839, some of the smaller oil firms have been forced to either curb or withhold importation to avoid incurring huge losses they cannot absorb, unlike the big oil companies.

EO 839 has frozen fuel prices in Luzon at their October 15 levels due to the devastation wrought by storms in a large swath of the country’s main island. It has been in effect since October 24.


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