By Myrna Velasco
It’s another week of pinch on Filipino consumers’ pockets as pump prices are on upswing again this week, with the cost of gasoline rising by P0.40 per liter; diesel by P.35 per liter; and kerosene products by P0.70 per liter.
As of press time, the first industry players that already sent notices on price hikes had been Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation and Flying V effective 6:00am on Tuesday (July 10); the usual course of price adjustments at the country’s petroleum pumps. The rest of the industry players are anticipated to follow competitors’ lead.
Given this fresh round of price hikes, Laban Konsyumer Inc. President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba is challenging the Department of Energy (DOE) and state-run Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation Inc. to make good and prove to the public that they can really import oil from Russia at a cheaper cost of P35 to P36 per liter, chiefly for socially sensitive diesel products.
The government has already broadly publicized its plan to negotiate with the Russian government for “cheaper oil” – and once its shipment arrives in the country, that oil will be offered to public utility vehicles.
“The program to import Russian diesel at announced P35 per liter for PUVs should be realized – and not just gimmicks,” Dimagiba stressed.
It is worth seeing though how the Philippine government could purchase cheaper diesel from Russia, when that country is selling diesel at its pumps at 39.50 to 44.02 Russian rouble (in the range of P33.48 to P37.31 equivalent in the local currency — but that’s without factoring in logistics costs and excise taxes yet).
Dimagiba added “we have to remember that our countrymen expected a better situation under this administration and they are still hopeful. We cannot just let it that there will come a time when this leadership will be losing its credibility on what it promised to the Filipinos.”
According to international market watchers, global prices had been on a rally several trading days last week; however, they also softened on last Friday’s trading.
Dubai crude, which is the regarded benchmark for Asian markets, closed at US$74.53 per barrel last week; while Brent crude hovered at US$77.11 per barrel.
Meanwhile, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude reference for North American market was at a leaner US$73.80 per barrel last week.
As noted by analysts, prospects of world oil prices reaching anew the tense US$80 per barrel may not recur yet because of the recent decision of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its Russia-led alliance to boost production.
For markets, what they have been closely monitoring is the impact of the brewing trade war between the United States and China; especially with recent developments wherein Russia has been stirred up to join the fray.
In the Philippine market, consumers’ angst has been flaring up anew following the successive weeks of price hikes – not a very enticing follow-up news after last week’s report of incessantly increasing commodity costs.