Ramon S. Ang, president and CEO of the Petron Corporation, said the oil firm will continue to incur financial losses this year that would delay its recovery as the rising COVID-19 cases will again cripple demand for petroleum products.
In a briefing with reporters, Ang categorically stated that the oil firm will still incur losses, and that financial recovery could be delayed – instead of the earlier expectation of better prospects this year.
“For fuel business to improve, people should be allowed to travel –travel by cars, travel by plane or travel by vessel. But it appears, we can’t travel up to next year.
So if nobody can travel, even next year, fuel demand will remain low,” he said.
Petron suffered from a financial hemorrhage last year – ending up with P11.4 billion net loss, although it already started shifting ground to a positive bottom line in the last quarter of 2020 because of reinforced fuel demand then.
“The industry looks sad. Power demand is low; fuel demand is very low. We thought our lives will improve this year, but it appears, it will not really improve this year compared to last year,” Ang stressed.
Based on how things stand today, particularly with the niggling impact of the pandemic, the Petron chief executive’s overall forecast as to when the economy really gains traction will be in 2023.
“It might still be difficult for the Philippine economy to recover next year. So we’re now looking at 2023,” he pointed out.
Ang echoed the call for accelerated vaccination program, so the targeted ‘herd immunity’ for the population could be achieved sooner; and subsequently, this could lead to return to higher degree of normalcy in the country that in the process could stimulate broader economic activities.
And while the country is traversing its toughest economic stress test, Ang noted that the company will be pursuing the registration of its Limay refinery as an economic zone locator at the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), so it can save it from closure and can also keep the employment of its workers.
He said the oil firm is currently working on all documentary requirements required by various relevant government agencies – including those with AFAB, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs, Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Energy.
The refining facility will be on four-month temporary shutdown (starting February this year); and is targeted to resume operations once the company completes all of its requirements for ecozone accreditation.
Petron’s Limay refinery in Bataan has 180,000 barrels per day capacity, and it is now the only remaining refining facility in the country.