Malacanang hopeful that oil companies will lower prices

July 18, 2009 2:22 pm 

MANILA, July 18 — With Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc. having slashed Monday by P4.75 per liter its gasoline prices, diesel by P3.50 and kerosene by P1.50 per liter, Malacañang expressed confidence that the Big Three and other independent players will follow suit.

In a radio interview, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said, “That’s the beauty of the oil deregulation… the competition that it brings will benefit the consumers.”

Replying to a question on the reported ganging up by the Big Three — Shell, Caltex (Chevron) and Petron -— against Unioil’s unilateral move, Fajardo said, “I hope the resultant competition will be healthy.”

Of course, Unioil knows by heart its costing, its selling prices, the global market prices of oil and how much more it can reduce its pump prices, Fajardo said.

"Knowing these, I suppose it’s a good sign that they would be following the steps of Unioil instead of fighting it," she added.

“They — the Big Three and other players — must also lower their prices if they want to compete with Unioil,” Fajardo emphasized.

The Department of Energy is there to monitor closely the oil companies although with the deregulated environment, the DoE can only do so much in its role on the oil industry.

“Let us see what comes next but the bottom line is for the benefit of the consumers. At the end of the day, if diesel and gasoline prices will decline, then the consumers will benefit from lower prices," Fajardo said.

Last July 13, Unioil slashed the prices of gasoline by a hefty P4.75 a liter, diesel by P3.50 a liter, and kerosene by P1.50 a liter — the biggest rollback yet this year.

Unioil general manager Chito Medina-Cue Jr. said the drastic drop was due to the continuous downward trend in world crude prices and the company’s commitment to sell high quality petroleum products at fair prices.

With the rollback, Unioil’s unleaded gasoline will retail at P35 a liter; its Quantum Premium gasoline at P35.44; regular unleaded, P34.66; Pure Diesel Plus (B1), P27.54; and kerosene, P38.44 a liter.

Medina-Cue said the company decided to bring back its “big-time rollback” strategy, which it started last year, to help the public weather the high prices of everything.

As of July 9, the regional benchmark Dubai crude had gone down to $ 65 a barrel, from $ 69 a barrel average in June, data from the Department of Energy showed.

While Unioil has so far cut its prices only once this month, other local oil companies have twice slashed the prices of their gasoline and diesel but only by a total of P2 a liter, and of kerosene by P1.50 a liter, to reflect the drop in global crude oil prices.

Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes said Monday he would ask the other oil companies — the Big 3, as well as independent players — why Unioil could afford to cut its prices and they could not. “We will ask the oil industry to explain,” Reyes earlier said.

Reyes was quoted by newspapers as saying the DoE will monitor to see to it that the reduction is being felt by the public,” he said. (PNA)

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