Gasoline, diesel prices up anew this week

Published March 23, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Myrna Velasco

With wildly fluctuating prices in the world market, Filipino consumers would need to brace themselves anew for price hikes this week – with the cost of gaso­line at the pumps antici­pated to rise by P0.70 to P0.80 per liter.

The expected price hikes for diesel products are seen hovering at P0.10 to P0.20 per liter, although industry players have cautioned that the initial calculation may still change depending on the out­come of Friday’s international trading.

Since the start of the year, prices at domestic pumps have been generally on the upswing trend because of various geopolitical factors exerting pressure on international prices. And for an import-dependent country like the Philippines, it really cannot do so much to shield its deregulated oil market from price volatilities.

Given this inescapable scenario, the Department of Energy (DOE) is appeal­ing to Filipino consumers to resort to energy efficiency as well as conservation so they can avoid getting their pockets ripped with the incessantly escalating prices at the pumps.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, led by Russia, have been strictly adhering to their committed production cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day.

Biggest oil producer Saudi Arabia is even going deeper than its committed output cut, as it has taken upon itself to reduce output by as much as 336,000 barrels per day for March alone; and may go as high as 635,000 barrels per day next month.

Trimmed production of the Vienna alliance is seen lasting until June – when OPEC and the Russia-led producers will meet again to decide whether or not to continue such market rebalancing strat­egy for the global oil markets.

Within Asian markets, the scheduled shutdowns of refineries – primarily in China and Japan – are anticipated to tighten supply, thus, causing upward pressure on prices.

As helpless as the Philippine govern­ment could, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi can just sound off that “as an oil importing country, our market is suscep­tible to these effects, and it is up to us as a nation how we handle this challenge.”

While Cusi wants the nation to act to­gether to meet the challenge, the excise tax on oil under the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act has contributed to the rising domestic oil prices.

Cusi likewise urged Filipino con­sumers to “continue to utilize energy efficiently and exercise the power of choice to enhance more competition at the retail level.”

He added that “retail prices and services per retail station are differ­ent,” hence, he encouraged end-users to “compare the prices and services and choose the retail station that provides the best products and services that suit their needs.”