DOE says oil firms exploiting Saudi attacks to manipulate fuel prices may face charges
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Energy (DOE) has warned oil companies of administrative or criminal charges if they are found to have unreasonably jacked up or rolled back fuel prices in the wake of the drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
In a Palace briefing Wednesday, Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido said that while government’s hands are tied in imposing fixed oil prices as the oil industry is deregulated, the joint task force of the DOE and Department of Justice may go after oil firms that are engaged in “anti-competitive practices.”
“If we believed that either the rollback or the increase—rollback for the liquid petroleum products and the increase in LPG (liquefied petroleum gas)—is unreasonable, then we will refer it to the DOE-DOJ Task Force to study the possibility of filing either administrative or criminal cases against these companies,” Pulido said.
Pulido said the DOE has already sent show cause orders to different oil companies to explain their price actions.
On Monday, oil companies announced a price rollback of P1.45 per liter for gasoline, P0.60 for diesel, and P1.00 for kerosene. Meanwhile, oil firms selling LPG also announced an increase Monday by P4.50 per kilogram, and auto LPG by P2.50 per liter to reflect the international contract price of LPG.
According to Pulido, DOE estimates showed that some oil companies did not roll back fuel retail prices as much as they could have while some increased LPG prices higher than the international market level.
But the DOE official was quick to clarify that issuing a show-cause order is not tantamount violations but just an avenue for oil firms to explain their price actions.
“We want them to explain it, hindi naman po naming sinasabi na mali sila (we’re not saying that they are wrong) but we want to give them the opportunity to explain,” he said. /muf
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