Senator Sherwin Gatchalian expressed hope over the weekend Petron Corp. will reconsider a plan to shut down its 180,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Bataan.
“Let’s hope [it will no] because there is a pandemic. We are talking about employment, revenues. For me, employment is the most important right now,” Gatchalian said in a virtual briefing with reporters.
Petron confirmed in a disclosure on Oct. 7 reports the company might shut down refinery operations if talks on tax issues with the government bogged down.
Petron is the lone refiner in the Philippines after Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. announced in August the closure of its 110,000-barrel refinery in Batangas because of the pandemic.
“We only have one refinery left, and refineries create value, you import crude oil at a lower price, you sell it at a higher price, so it creates value for us,” said Gatchalian who is the chairman of the Senate committee on energy.
“And also employment. Now is not the right time to shut down businesses, but make sure that they operate and survive,” he said.
Petron wants a level tax playing field with oil importers given the impact of COVID-19 on its business.
Petron suffered a consolidated net loss of P14.2 billion in the first six months, compared to the P2.6 billion net income in 2019, as the company reeled from the impact of the pandemic this year.
The company’s inventory losses reached nearly P15 billion because of the combined slump in demand, poor refining margins and collapse in prices.
“Whatever concessions, it should be talked about. I think they can work things out,” Gatchalian said, as he assured that he would look into the tax issues raised by Petron.