PH cuts oil imports by 46.2%

Published May 17, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

With the Covid-induced demand crash last year, the country’s aggregate oil import bill slowed down by a significant 46.2 percent to $6.371 billion from a comparatively whopping $11.838 billion in 2019.


The Department of Energy’s Oil Industry Management Bureau (DOE-OIMB) attributed the glaring reduction “to the combined effects of lower import costs and decrease in import volume of crude and finished products.”

Notably, global oil prices plummeted to as low as $20 per barrel last year when lockdowns were enforced in many parts of the world because of the coronavirus pandemic; while Philippine fuel demand had been smashed by as much as 60 to 70-percent when strict quarantine measures were implemented in the first half of 2020.

 According to the energy department, total oil import cost made up of 75.8-percent of finished products; while the smaller fraction at 24.2-percent had been for crude oil commodities.

 Crude oil importation amounted to $1.470 billion, reflecting a steep 63.6 percent decline versus $4.039 billion in the prior year. This was attributed to“lower CIF (cost, insurance and freight) prices of crude oil per barrel.”

 For finished products, the scale of importation likewise tumbled by 37.2-percent to $4.901 billion last year as against a more robust $7.799 billion in 2019.

“The decline was attributed to lower import costs and decreased product import volume because of the slowdown in demand caused by the pandemic,” the DOE report has reiterated.

  In terms of volume, DOE emphasized that offshore-sourced finished petroleum products decelerated by 8.3-percent last year to 16.394 billion liters from a hefty 17.883 billion liters the previous year.

“The drop was attributed to the decreased demand due to reduced economic activity because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the energy department specified.

 For crude oil import volume, this was drastically down by 45.7-percent last year to 5.238 billion liters as against the astronomical 9.649 billion liters in 2019 – and that had been mainly due to the decision of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation on its refinery’s shutdown; while Petron’s Limay refinery also went on interim downtime.

  In terms of sourcing, the DOE said majority of the country’s crude imports last year had been from the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia cornering bulk of the pie with 45.7-percent share, followed by Kuwait and Russia; and the rest are from Nigeria, Brazil and Asian countries.

On the demand sphere, the country’s overall consumption of oil dipped by 17.3-percent to 22.581 billion liters as against 27.319 billion liters in 2019; and that translated to average daily requirement of 61.7 million liters.

 “With community quarantine still up in the country to curb the spread of Covid-19, the decrease in demand is attributed to reduced economic activity due to lockdown and travel restrictions,” the DOE pointed out.