GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The Department of Energy has ordered an investigation into the anomalous unloading of more than five million liters of petroleum products worth P250 million into the oil depot owned by Seaoil Philippines in Barangay Bawing this city.
Energy Undersecretary Benito Ranque said he had directed the DOE-Mindanao field office based in Davao City to investigate the incident following reports from Philippine Coast Guard station in the city that Seaoil lacked pertinent documents to operate its oil depot in the area.
LTJG Tristan Jener Erediane, Coast Guard station commander, reported that Coast Guard personnel, while conducting patrol in Sarangani Bay, spotted the vessel M/T Benjamin Neville unloading some 5.4 million liters of petroleum products into the Seaoil depot last December 9.
Upon verification, Eridiane said depot manager Clinth Basungilan failed to present pertinent documents relative to the operation of the oil depot, including compliance certificate from the DOE, building and business permits from the local government.
He said the Seaoil official alleged that they are still awaiting for the DOE certification from Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi.
“Technically, the Seaoil depot is operating illegally,” Erediane said.
The Coast Guard official said Seaoil management had ignored his order to refrain from unloading and withdrawal of petroleum products at the oil depot until all pertinent documents are being complied that warrant its legitimate operation.
“We want to ensure that the operation of the oil depot does not pose hazards to maritime environment of the area,” Erediane said.
Ranque said he sought for an investigation into the incident to determine if the petroleum products were smuggled into the country.
“The focus of the investigation will focus on the origin of the petroleum products to determine if they are being smuggled into the area,” Ranque said.