Dec 172014

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) is urging oil players to provide weekly prices for each of their respective gasoline stations nationwide, according to a draft circular now being circulated among local petroleum companies.

The idea is to put the prices in a DOE-run website so consumers can see which gasoline station offers the lowest prices in a given period.

 “We are experimenting with this. All these companies have pump prices. The idea is every time they change, they have to inform us and automatically without any intervention, we will put it on the website,” Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla  said  yesterday.

He stressed that nothing is final yet as the department is still studying the plan.

 “We want to be transparent and we are giving consumers and motorists a choice. Let’s say you are five kilometers from a gasoline station and you want to know if prices are cheap there or in another station….” Petilla said.

He said the scheme is not new because as it is now, oil firms provide the DOE their respective weekly prices.

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“But it would be better if there is a website containing information on all gasoline stations,” he said.

Energy Undersecretary Zenaida Monsada said it would be a tedious process but the end result is transparency for consumers.

“We will have a dry run in Metro Manila but we have to talk to the dealers first. This is about empowering motorists,” she said.

Oil firms, for their part, said they may have a hard time complying.

“We are already informing the DOE of our prices but for all the gasoline stations to have their prices published may be too tedious,” an oil company executive said.

But the source said oil firms would be ready to comply should the DOE mandate this.

Oil prices have gone down at least 25 times since the start of the year for gasoline, equivalent to a reduction of P18.30, while diesel prices have gone down 31 times, equivalent to P18.85.

The latest cut was this weekend’s hefty price cut of P1.75 per liter for gasoline and P1.55 per liter for diesel.

Based on the DOE’s latest oil price monitoring report, gasoline prices now range from P39.60 per liter to P45.70 per liter while diesel prices are now at a range P30.75 per liter to P34.10 per liter.

The global crude market is now flooded with supply on the back of the slump in economies that used to be big consumers of oil such as China.

The DOE said in its report that crude prices have dipped to as low as $65 per barrel or about 40 percent lower since it started to fall in June on concerns of supply glut in the world market.

But oil industry sources said the main culprit is really the growing utilization of US shale oil, an unconventional type of oil from oil shale rock fragments, which because of its lower price, is breaking the neck of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“It’s really all about US shale,” an oil company executive said.

US shale, which comes mostly from North America, costs $40 to $50 per barrel, or almost half compared to the $86 per barrel cost of oil from OPEC.

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