Little or no oil price hike this Holy Week: DOE

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 02 2012 06:52 PM | Updated as of Apr 03 2012 02:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) assured motorists that there will be little, if not no oil price hikes during the Holy Week.

DOE director Zenaida Monsada said there should be no increase in the price of diesel, while gasoline whould have minimal increase if at all.

While it is true that oil prices went up overseas at the start of last week, Monsada said prices softened towards Friday last week. She said the softening of oil prices is because of the decision of big countries to release some of their oil reserves, which effectively stopped speculators from purchasing stocks since there will be a flood of supplies. Big countries usually have a 90-day oil inventory.

Monsada warned oil companies that if there are abusive increases, they could get into trouble.

She also reiterated that LPG prices were rolled back today by about P9 per kilo, or about P99 for every 11 kilogram cylinder. Auto LPG also went down to P450.

Monsada attributed the LPG roll back to the end of the winter season, pulling down the demand for heating gas.

Meanwhile, the Independent Review Committee created by the Office of the President met with non-government organizations today as part of their study if oil companies are making excessive profits from oil price hikes.

Monsada said the group is expected to come up with an independent study that is more detailed than previous studies. It is expected to focus on the pricing metholodgy of oil companies as well as their levels of profitability.

The DOE director said most of the information now being used by the panel came from the department, which monitored oil prices after the industry was deregulated.

The panel is expected to produce its findings by July.

Professor and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, chairman of the panel, said the panel was created because of perceptions of the lack of transparency by oil companies on alleged excessive profits.

Diokno said they will apply statistical techniques and come up with a final result by the first week of July.

Last week, the panel met with transport groups. Diokno said they will base their study on evidence and make it as user-friendly as possible.

But he clarified that any complaints on oil prices should be addressed to the DOE. 
Diokno also expects LPG prices to stabilize especially as the peso's value appreciates.

He said they will submit their findings to the DOE and if ever cases need to be filed, it will be taken up with the joint task force with the Department of Justice. 

So far, the panel has not seen any evidence of abuse on the part of oil companies. Diokno said the oil companies have been cooperating by opening their books.

The panel would have to meet with oil companies separately because of the confidentiality of some matters that need to be discussed.

Diokno said they are going to ask oil companies to explain their prices, but the oil companies cannot really be compelled in a deregulated environment.

The panel will have to come up with a final determination if there is abuse once the study is over, and they have seen oil companies' returns of investment.