Big-time oil price hike today

By Myrna Velasco

Oil firms will impose hefty price increases on their fuel products effective today, with diesel rising by P1.20 per liter and gasoline by P0.95.

(Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN) (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN)

The oil companies similarly indicated that the price of kerosene, a commodity used by many Filipino households especially in the rural areas and also a base for aviation fuel, will likewise go up by P0.95 per liter this week.

The pricing adjustments will take effect at 6 a.m. today (Sept. 4).

As of press time last night, the oil companies that already sent price movement notices to the media are Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, Petro Gazz, and Eastern Petroleum Corporation while the rest of the oil firms are anticipated to follow.

Prior to this batch of cost movements, average pump prices based on the monitoring of the Department of Energy (DOE) is P56.32 per liter for gasoline, P44.45 per liter for diesel, and P51.37 per liter for kerosene.

This week’s large-scale price hikes followed weeks of “token adjustments” that consumers had seen at the pumps – more or less due to more steady prices in the world market.

But international trading for oil commodities in recent days took wild upswing, hence, the sizeable prices to be experienced at the Philippine pumps.

Brent crude reached an average of US$77.47 per barrel as of last week’s close of trading; while the basket of crudes traded by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hovered at US$75.72 per barrel.

In a related development, Eastern Petroleum Corporation announced on Sunday that it increased the price of its EC Gas liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) brand by a leaner P1.80 per kilogram or a total of P19.80 for the 11-kilogram standard tank.

Relative to LPG trade in the Philippines, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has cautioned the public “on the emergence of illegally LPG-refilled butane canisters that circulate in provincial markets.”

That had been based on the outcome of the energy department’s focused inspections in Batangas and several areas in Visayas region recently.

Cusi explained that “the buy-bust operations are part of the continuing efforts to eliminate the proliferation of LPG-refilled butane canisters in the provinces,” and in line with that, he called on the public “to refrain from patronizing said products.”

The energy chief stressed that “LPG-refilled butane canisters are extremely dangerous, especially so since butane canisters should only be used once.”

He expounded that “refilling these tin canisters with LPG could cause fire and also greatly endangers the lives of our consumers.”

Cusi emphasized that a number of fire incidents have been caused “by leaking canisters refilled with LPG.”

In the latest Visayas spot checks undertaken by the department, it was reported that three individuals were arrested for violating Batasang Pambansa 33 (as amended by Presidential Decree 1865), for selling and possessing 638 illegally refilled and empty canisters.

The DOE Visayas Field Office further indicated that in Cebu province alone, “more than 30 individuals have already been arrested after being caught trading LPG-refilled butane canisters.”