The country’s demand for oil improved in the first half of 2019, pushing imports of petroleum products up due to lower local production, data from the Department of Energy (DOE) showed.
The DOE reported local refiners processed 30.8 million barrels (MB) of crude in the first semester, down 26 percent from the previous 41.6 MB. Consequently, local petroleum refinery production output dropped by 27.2 percent to 30.1 MB from 41.4 MB.
The DOE attributed the decline to the shutdown of the refineries due to the maintenance works needed after parts of Luzon and Metro Manila were hit by an earthquake in April.
Meanwhile, the country’s total petroleum product imports for the period rose 19.5 percent from 48,129 MB to 57,497 MB due to the oil refiners’ lower production volume.
The top imported product for the period was diesel oil, with an increase of 30.3 percent from 18.6 MB to 24.3 MB. Gasoline import also rose 19.6 percent from 9.4 MB to 11.2 MB.
Demand for petroleum products in the first half of 2019 totaled 87.8 MB, up 4.5 percent from 83.98 MB in the same period last year. It translates to an average daily requirement of 485 thousand barrels compared with last year’s level of 464 thousand barrels.
The local petroleum market is still dominated by Petron Corp. cornering 24.69 percent, followed by Pilipinas Shell with 17.93 percent and Chevron, 7.56 percent. The remaining 49.8 percent is accounted for by other industry players which include Phoenix Petroleum, Seaoil and Unioil, among others.
The DOE said the estimated total oil import bill for the first half is down 8.3 percent to $6.053 billion from $6.597 billion due to the combined effects of lower import cost and decreased volume of crude imported.
The country’s petroleum exports earnings for the period fell 33.4 percent to $420 million from $630.4 million last year.
Overall, the country’s net oil import bill amounting to $5.633 billion is down 5.6 percent from $5.966 billion.