By Myrna Velasco
Fuel budgets for travelling Filipinos will be lighter this New Year as the oil companies started cost rollbacks this weekend with diesel prices by P1.80 per liter; gasoline by P1.30 per liter; and kerosene prices by P1.90 per liter.
Three oil firms – Unioil Petroleum, Seaoil and Phoenix Petroleum– jumpstarted this round of price cuts on December 29 (Saturday) at 6:00am; followed by PetroGazz on December 31 (Monday) at 6:00am.
The rest of the industry players are anticipated to follow — as had always been the pace of petroleum price adjustments in the country.
Prior to this batch of price reductions, a monitoring of the Department of Energy (DOE) had shown that diesel prices had been at the range of P36.20 to P43.83 per liter; gasoline at P41.55 to P56 per liter; and kerosene at P41.32 to P51.40 per liter.
Aside from commodities at the pumps, cooking fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is also anticipated to go down this January due to softening of contract prices in the world market.
The pricing benchmark for LPG of the Philippine market is that of the contract prices of Saudi Aramco – the same reference point applied by other markets in the Asian region.
The incessant rise in the oil production of the United States had pushed global oil prices sliding into unprecedented levels – hence, the series of price cuts now being enjoyed by consumers at petroleum pumps.
Nevertheless, banks and lenders have been sounding off forecasts that prices will still have the chance to recover to the level of US$50 to US$70 across barrels in the basket of crudes.
For oil consumers in the Philippines, this week’s swing in prices will be coming as a ‘twin benefit’ – because aside from the price rollbacks, the imposition of higher excise taxes will not also happen yet at the initial week of the new year.
The DOE has directed the oil companies to submit report on remaining inventories and ensure that this will not be levied yet with additional excise taxes.
Petroleum product importers have minimum inventory of 15 days; while refiners like Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation have as much as 30 days, thus, the industry had been able to hold on to about a month of non-pass of the higher excise taxes when the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act of the Duterte administration was first enforced this passing year. (MMV)