Marikina rep urges House to probe possible collusion among oil companies
MANILA, Philippines – After the biggest oil price hike for this year took effect, a lawmaker has urged the House of Representatives to investigate possible collusion among oil companies to manipulate pump prices.
According to Marikina 2nd District Stella Quimbo on Wednesday, she intends to file a resolution on the matter, and on questions, whether the Department of Energy (DOE) system of pricing enables this scheme.
“Are oil companies colluding in pricing fuel? Why is the fuel price increase similar even if they belong to different companies, with different procurement methods of buying oil from the world market. Their cost of operations are different also; maybe there really is a cartel run by oil companies,” Quimbo asked during the press briefing of Minority lawmakers.
“And it seems that the DOE is an enabler of this cartel […] I will file a resolution seeking to inquire into the possibility of tacit collusion in fuel pricing, and the possibility that it is precisely the DOE pricing formula that enables this,” she added.
Last Tuesday morning, Shell and Petro Gazz implemented price increases of P2.35 per liter of gasoline fuel, P1.80 per liter of diesel, and P1.75 for kerosene. The same prices were adopted by Caltex, although the hike took effect on Wednesday.
Other companies are expected to follow suit. These price adjustments are still blamed to the recent attacks at Saudi Arabia’s largest oil processing plant, which allegedly slowed oil production.
READ: Big-time oil price hike ipatutupad simula bukas, Sept. 24 https://radyo.inquirer.net/205579/ilang-kumpanya-ng-langis-magpapatupad-ng-malakihang-dagdag-presyo-sa-martes-sept-24
READ: Oil prices surge as attack on Saudi facility disrupts output https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1165031/oil-prices-surge-as-attack-on-saudi-facility-disrupts-output
READ: Oil companies told: Don’t exploit Saudi attacks to hike prices https://business.inquirer.net/279271/oil-companies-told-dont-exploit-saudi-attacks-to-hike-prices
However, Quimbo claimed that this goes contrary to assurances from the oil companies, that their supply is sufficient for up to 37 days — which possibly means that they procured oil even before the Saudi Arabia incident.
These changes are still attributed to the attack on Saudi Arabia’s North Jiddah bulk plant, which is the largest oil processing plant in the country. Lawmakers meanwhile asked oil companies not to exploit the recent incidents as a justifying reason to raise oil prices.
“If these are their inventory patterns, it appears that what they are selling today was purchased at least a month prior to the drone attacks. If this is the case, they have no basis to raise oil prices. My question is, are the attacks being used as an excuse?” Quimbo asked./ac
In 2012, an independent group which includes former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno insisted that their review of oil companies and price increases during the period did not show any collusion or irregularity.
Unbundling oil prices
Meanwhile, Quimbo’s colleagues in the Minority – Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnulfo Teves and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate – called on the DOE to implement the unbundling of fuel prices, for the public to determine how much companies are profiting.
“Oil is a basic commodity, for me. Fuel has a price, right? Can the people know if how much from the actual fuel price is the tax, and how much is the company’s profit?” Teves told reporters.
“Again, I am calling for transparency. Let’s break down the oil prices, because it might be possible that the profit is way too high,” he added.
Zarate meanwhile reminded that they have filed a resolution urging DOE to order oil companies to unbundle the oil prices, but the department was forced to stop doing so due to restraining orders from the court.
“Unfortunately when this (department order) was released, what the oil companies did was to file several cases for the court to issue a temporary restraining order on the unbundling circular,” he explained.
“Our call for the court is to resolve the cases quickly because my colleagues’ hunches are right, the oil companies are taking advantage of the situation in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
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