By Myrna M.Velasco
It’s another mixed bag of adjustments in pump prices this week – with the per-liter cost of gasoline increasing by ₱0.80 to ₱0.85 per liter; and diesel products on rollback by ₱0.25 to ₱0.30 per liter. For kerosene which is a commodity essential for both households and industries, its price was also on a reduction of ₱0.25 per liter.
The first to announce price movements at the pumps had been independent player Cleanfuel which implemented a price hike of ₱0.80 per for gasoline; and ₱0.30 per liter rollback on its diesel products effective 4:01 p.m. on Sunday (November 17).
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation was the next one to send price adjustment advisory for ₱0.85 per liter increase in gasoline products; and ₱0.25 per liter rollback on both diesel and kerosene products effective on Tuesday (November 19) at 6 a.m. PetroGazz followed with ₱0.85 per liter increase on gasoline products; and a leaner ₱0.15 per liter rollback on diesel products; and other players like Phoenix Petroleum, Total, Seaoil and PTT came next matching the adjustments of their rival-firms.
Of the early price trendsetters, it is Shell’s price swings that will likely be followed by most of the industry players, as had always been the case in previous price movements – unless the oil firms will set some disparity in their pricing approach this week because of the “collusion case” just filed against them before the Philippine Competition Commission.
By far, the oil companies had already gotten comfortable at just sending the price adjustment notices – with no one of them bothering to even provide explanation or cost references to the weekly cost swings at the Philippine pumps.
The manner of pricing their products had been questioned in complaints and they even had their arms twisted on unbundling their costs, but they scored legal victory on the latter, thus, that rendered the Department of Energy (DOE) helpless in requiring them to itemize their cost components.
It is worth noting though that with the very volatile swing of prices in the world market, the net earnings of many oil companies had been on downswing this year – even for oil majors Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.
While they have been registering hike in volume sales, they noted that competition may have been hobbled by other factors – including possible proliferation of smuggling activities by other players, therefore, they are supporting government policies aimed at curbing such unscrupulous trade practices.
Domestic pump prices move weekly based on the swings of prices in the world market. Last week’s benchmark Dubai crude had been fluttering from US$60 to US$61 per barrel, but not much explanation had been given on movement of oil trade in regional markets.