The country’s net oil import bill fell 40 percent in the first nine months of 2015 to $5.83 billion from $9.680 billion a year ago, reflecting the drop in world crude prices.
Net oil import bill refers to the difference between oil exports and oil imports.
Latest data from the Energy Department showed total oil imports in January to September reached $6.523 billon, consisting of 108.038 million barrels of crude and finished products. The Philippines imports more than 90 percent of its petroleum needs.
The bulk of the imported oil products in 2015 were finished products, accounting for 57.055 million barrels, while imported crude oil products, used primarily by oil refiners, reached 50.983 million barrels.
The oil import figures last year revealed a significant decline from $10.628 billion in 2014, equivalent to 95.234 million barrels of oil imported during the period.
Export value of oil products also declined to $698.4 million or 12.237 million barrels of oil from $948 million or 8.645 million barrels worth of oil exports in 2014.
Petron Corp. captured the biggest market share during the period, as it cornered 30.7 percent of the market while rival Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. accounted for 23.4 percent.
Petron owns the country’s biggest oil refinery in Bataan with a capacity of 180,000 barrels per day while Shell owns a 110,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Batangas.
Chevron Philippines, meanwhile, captured 6.9 percent of the market while other oil companies, mostly new oil players, garnered 30.7 percent during the period.
The low oil prices in the world market have resulted in lower transport fares and traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
“The cheap oil prices is being blamed for the traffic because everyone is bringing their cars due to the cheap fuel prices,” Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said earlier.
Oil companies, however, warned that the continuing decline in oil prices might result in inventory losses.
“Low oil prices make products cheaper but then another impact is inventory losses to the oil companies,” Shell country chairman Ed Chua said.