Oil firms back review of technical, safety policies for small retail outlets

Published June 9, 2021, 4:44 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP), an organization of of major oil industry players, are throwing support to the decision of the Department of Energy (DOE) to review the technical and safety policies for small retail outlets that are serving marginalized areas, primarily the market domains relying on illegal oil trading.

Dubbed as the technology solution retail outlets (TSRO), this type of retail outlet is a result of emerging technologies that addresses the requirements of liquid fuels in areas currently served by the illegal ‘bote-bote’ trade.”

In a statement to the media, the PIP regarded the DOE’s move relating to the review of existing regulations governing TSROs as a step in the right direction because this will be addressing not just illegal practices in the deregulated downstream oil sector, but will likewise tackle the concomitant risks relating to safety of unacceptable trade activities in the sector.

“We commit to the DoE our full support for its thorough assessment of TSROs operating in the country,” the oil firm organization has stated.

As emphasized by the PIP, TSROs are flourishing in rural areas – and more than 150 have been reported in the MIMAROPA provinces (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) as well as in Western Visayas region, including those in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Guimaras and Iloilo.

The organization added that there are array of issues linked to the operations of the TSROs, and these include possible violations on permitting, facility standards, health and safety as well as non-compliance to tax payments and regulations.

The PIP further said “the repercussion from non-compliance to retail rules is a serious matter,” noting in particular the recent explosion incident that happened in Mindoro, which had been considered a classic example of non-compliant TSRO.

With such untoward development, the PIP emphasized that breaches in retailing of oil products “become clear and present danger to the community.”

The group narrated that on June 6 this year, a TSRO in Calapan, Mindoro “exploded while receiving fuel from a tanker,” and that subsequently triggered damage to properties and establishments in the area.

The PIP qualified that “while the objective of allowing TSROs is to provide fuel access to areas otherwise served by illegal bote-bote, some of these small retail outlets are located in areas where regular service stations are already operating.”

At this stage, the DOE stipulated that TSROs are “not exempt from following safety, technical and other documentary requirements,” including those being mandated by the local government units, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The energy department told stockholders “It is now in the process of revising the rules “to ensure the safety of consumers and other stakeholders.”