By Myrna Velasco
A sharp rise in global crude prices on Thursday and Friday (January 3 and 4) trading had caused uptick in Philippine pump prices by as much as P0.80 per liter for gasoline and P0.70 per liter for diesel today, Tuesday – much higher than the earlier calculations of the industry players.
Kerosene, which is generally used in households as well as in industries, will go up by P0.40 per liter, according to the pricing notices sent yesterday by the oil companies.
As of press time, the firms that already advised on price hikes include oil majors Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation and Chevron which carries the Caltex brand; then independent player Petro Gazz – effective 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Tuesday, January 8.
The rest of the industry players are anticipated to follow – given the usual routine of price adjustments in the deregulated domestic oil industry.
While monitoring this round of price adjustments, the Department of Energy (DOE) is also closely monitoring oil companies that had already increased excise taxes on petroleum products being sold at their pumps – referencing such on the mandate of the second tranche excise taxes of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
According to Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella, some 300 gasoline stations already hiked excise taxes by additional P2.00 per liter for gasoline and diesel – out of the more than 8,000 stations being monitored by the department.
As of the current figures released by the energy department, 268 stations are of leading oil firm Petron Corporation; and 32 retail outlets are of independent player Flying V.
Fuentebella explained that they are looking at two aspects when it comes to the monitoring of specific petroleum retail network: first is the size of the gasoline station so they can assess its storage capacity; and the second is the demand or the extent of withdrawal from that station based on the purchases of customers, “so we can gauge when its inventory will be used up.”
The department, he said, is expecting full pass-on of the higher excise taxes between January 15 to February 1 this year.
The second batch of excise tax adjustments on petroleum products warrants price hikes of P2 per liter for gasoline and diesel products; and P1 per kilogram for liquefied petroleum gas – plus corresponding value added taxes.
Essentially, that will result in total adjustment of P2.24 per liter in taxes for gasoline and diesel; and P1.12 per kilogram for LPG cooking fuel.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the department “will ensure the fuel stocks for 2018 will be utilized first and sold at the pre-implementation prices.”
In keeping track of this policy enforcement, the energy chief indicated that it already directed several gas stations “to explain why they implemented fuel price hikes as early as January 2, 2019.”
The DOE initially expected that pump prices will still not go up on the first week of January because of calculated remaining inventories of the oil companies – the data of which had been mandated to be submitted to the department at yearend.
Energy Assistant Director Rodela I. Romero said they first required the oil firms to submit product inventories as early as September last year; and as of December 1, 2018, the industry players were directed to submit their notarized inventory reports – being a requirement relative to the implementation of the second tranche of the TRAIN excise taxes.
Despite this week’s increase in prices, Cusi is anticipating that world oil prices will not shoot up to the level of US$80 per barrel as what happened in some months of 2018.
“If the trend continues, we do not expect it to have as much impact on fuel prices as it did last year,” the energy chief stressed.