Oil firms told to explain prices

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    Discrepancy. Based on government computation, the latest rollback is 22 centavos short for gas and 0.06 centavos short for diesel
    Gas stations close under the ECQ. (Malaya photo file)

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has asked oil companies and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distributors to explain their latest prices after discrepancies were found in the computation of their price adjustments against government’s own estimates.

    The DOE warned of possible administrative or criminal charges if the oil firms are found to have unreasonably jacked up or rolled back their prices following the recent attacks against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

    Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido, in a briefing in Malacanang yesterday said while the oil industry is deregulated, the government through the joint task force of the DOE and Department of Justice (DOJ) could still investigate the oil firms to ensure they do not violate competition laws.

    “If we believe that either the rollback or the increase – rollback for liquid petroleum products and the increase in LPG – is unreasonable then we will refer (the findings) to the DOE–DOJ Task Force to study the possibility of filing either administrative or criminal cases against these companies,” Pulido said.

    He said the oil firms and LPG distributors and suppliers were given three days to explain their latest rates.

    Pulido said based on government computations, the latest rollback in oil prices is still 22 centavos short for gas and 0.06 centavos short for diesel while the latest LPG hike is at least 25 centavos per kilogram overpriced.

    Oil companies on Monday rolled back prices of gasoline by P1.45 per liter and by 60 centavos per liter of diesel, while LPG prices went up by P4.50 per kilogram.

    Pulido said historically, price rollbacks or increases implemented by oil firms matched the computations of government.

    He said DOE is not saying that the computations of the oil companies are wrong but that government just wants to hear their explanation on their current rates.

    He added government cannot dictate the prices of oil since the industry has long been deregulated.

    As this developed, Pulido reassured the public of a stable supply of oil despite the recent attacks in Saud Arabia and the advent of the winter months in some countries.

    “We are calling our stakeholders, the oil companies, and (we are) asking them not to take advantage of it (attack), precisely because Saudi Arabia has already declared they will be on line by October, they will be back to normal operations. And the hike in LPG prices are normal precisely because of the advent of the winter season in cold countries,” he said.