September 19, 2019 at 01:25 am
Alena Mae S. Flores
The Energy department on Wednesday said the Philippines has enough oil inventory
to weather any impact of the drone attacks in Saudi Arabia, even as the agency expressed hope that oil prices will stabilize following reports that Saudi Arabia will be able to return to production soon.
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“We have enough inventory to last us for 30 days at least,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay.
“We just heard the good news that Saudi Aramco was able to restore and production will be back to normal immediately so that is a good development and I hope that the price will correct and we will be monitoring how the global market behaves but what we would like to assure [the public] is the inventory we have is sufficient to keep the economy running,” Cusi said.
He said world oil prices went up after the Saudi Arabia drone attack over the weekend that cut about 6 percent of the world’s supply of oil.
“That would affect us because… 76 percent of our crude imports are coming from the Middle East and I think 37 percent is from Saudi Arabia,” the Energy chief said.
Cusi also assured the public that while there is available supply, government may also suspend the implementation of the excise tax.
“Government has prepared a measure in case the price will escalate because of that, under the Train Law, if the price breaches $80 per barrel for three months, the government may suspend the excise tax,” he said.
At the same time, Cusi said the department is looking at putting up a strategic oil reserve through state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. to prevent any supply disruption in times of crisis.
“Petroleum is in the hands of the private sector, the government is not in the supply chain and that’s what we have been trying to do, to bring back government to participate in the supply chain and we develop a strategic reserve,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cusi said government is also serious about pursuing oil and gas exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea, where the Recto Bank is located, to ensure energy supply security.
“We are this serious and the President really would like to make use of the resources for the benefit of the Filipino. We quarrel about the territory or sovereignty but if we can get the resources out and we can use it, it would better if we can do it immediately,” he said.
He said there is still no firm timetable for the joint venture but the Philippines has completed the framework for the planned joint exploration with China and is only waiting for a meeting with their Chinese counterparts so they can begin.
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