DOE Addresses Oil Situation in Yolanda-Stricken Areas

(Taguig City) In a memorandum issued on 14 November 2013, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla directed oil companies operating in typhoon Yolanda-stricken areas to ensure adequate supply and execute fair pricing of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene and LPG. 

The memorandum enjoins oil companies to implement the Department of Energy (DOE) Circular on Mutual Product Sharing Accommodations (MPSA) issued in 2011 in order to provide and stabilize oil supply in the affected areas. 

“The Secretary wants to implement this so an oil company can share or use another oil company’s bulk facility (depot) to ensure the steady oil supply in the areas.  Usually, the companies will supply its own operations first and then accommodate others,” DOE-Oil Industry Management Bureau Director Zenaida Monsada explained in a press briefing at the DOE on oil supply and price situation in Eastern Visayas.

It also includes limiting the sale to two liters per customer or P500.00 worth for direct fueling of vehicles to be able to accommodate as many customers. However, some gas stations are now selling more than the limit set by the DOE and in increasing quantity, as the oil situation in these areas are starting to normalize. 

“As more gas stations are opening and operating now, a vehicle can have a full tank, but those that are buying gas by the containers are still restricted to the set limit,” DOE Undersecretary Loreta Ayson said in the same press briefing.

The oil companies shall also give priority to authorized government and military vehicles that are assisting in relief operations, and maintaining the peace and order in the affected areas. 

In terms of supply, oil companies are obliged to update the DOE of the operational status of their depots and gasoline stations within the areas. Presently, all depots in the Visayas are operational except for Shell’s facility in Tacloban. The gas stations are gradually re-opening and 81 stations (about 60%) are now operating, although not yet at full capacity as most stations sustained damages, to stabilize the supply and reduce chances of individuals who are taking advantage of the oil situation.

Dir. Monsada reiterated the DOE’s call to the oil companies to immediately bring supply to the affected areas by facilitating the resumption of operation of the gas stations. “Normalizing fuel supply will eventually stabilize fuel prices, thus minimize the proliferation of ‘bote-bote’ fuel peddlers and the sale of exorbitantly-priced petroleum products with uncertain quality,” Dir. Monsada said.

The DOE encourages consumers to buy only from authorized gas stations, and refrain from patronizing individuals selling gasoline on any container or bottle (“bote-bote”), as these illegal sellers risk apprehension by the local government units (LGUs) for operating without business permit. Consumers are also advised not to use bottles or containers when buying gasoline and diesel and to report any event of excessive oil pricing to the DOE and/or the LGUs. 

Usec. Ayson said that the DOE is closely coordinating with other concerned agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Transportation and Communications, Philippine Ports Authority, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for the clearing of the access roads, prioritizing loading of fuel tank trucks to Roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships/barges, especially from Matnog to Allen (Pasacao being another major oil supply source now), and secure the oil facilities (depots and gas stations) as well as the transportation of fuels from the oil depots to the gas stations so the supply deliveries will not be hampered. 

Another major challenge to the normalcy of fuel supply in the region is the longer turnaround of the tank trucks from Pasacao/Cebu, and for jet fuel supply from Batangas, than it were if the supply is from Tacloban.

In the press briefing, the DOE announced that with Presidential Proclamation No. 682, the prices of kerosene and household LPG are covered by a price freeze along with other basic necessities and prime commodities enumerated in the amended Price Act. The DOE notes that kerosene and LPG prices shall be kept at the prevailing price at the time of the issuance of the effectivity of the proclamation, and for 15 days because they are imported.