By Myrna M. Velasco
To gain leeway in gauging the impact of the death-dealing novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the board of directors of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation has deferred decision to declare cash dividend to qualified shareholders.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), the oil company noted that such will give it “the opportunity to assess the overall situation and deter¬mine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
At the same time, Shell indicated that it will in parallel be evaluating the overall influence of crude oil price volatility on the company’s cash flows.
In the same meeting last Thursday (March 26), the oil firm’s board had decided on the postponement of their annual stockholders’ meeting that had been originally slated on May 12 this year.
It told the local bourse that “the decision to determine and set the dates of the annual stockholders’ meeting and closing of stock and transfer book is delegated by the Board to the President and Chief Executive and the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer.”
Pilipinas Shell is among the listed oil companies in the country that has yet to issue its 2019 financial results – albeit for most of its industry competitors, the outcome had been on a downward trend.
A decision was also reached by the oil firm’s board to re-appoint Sycip Gorres Velayo & Company as its external auditor for this year.
With the lingering health crisis propelled by COVID-19, the oil and gas sector had been among the industries extremely pummeled by crashing prices in the world market.
The restricted movement of people had sent global oil prices crashing to the level of US$23 to US$26 per barrel, hitting all-time lows so far since the time that cost swings also hit rock-bottom of US$30 per barrel in early 2015.
In the past two weeks, Filipino consumers had seen pump prices being rolled back at their heftiest levels of ₱3.50 to ₱4.50 per liter, but those were ‘basement prices’ they were not able to enjoy be-cause of the enforced lockdown in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.
And for as long as the COVID pandemic lingers, it is anticipated that the oil industry as well as the capital markets would be continually whacked, hence, industry players are already anxious of the financial battering that they will have to endure this year.