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‘Unbundling’ oil prices is not regulatory, DOE official says

The Department of Energy (DOE) is firm in its position requiring oil companies to “unbundle” or reveal the details of how pump prices of petroleum products are adjusted.

In a chance interview on the sidelines of 7th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit in Pasay City on Wednesday, Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido III said “asking of information” on how the prices per liter of fuel are increased or decreased is not a “form of regulation.”

“The asking of information, not it’s dissemination, but just the asking of information is expressedly authorized in the Oil Deregulation [law]. It is in no way, a form of regulation,” Pulido said.

The Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 70 issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the DOE’s Department Circular No. DC2019-05-0008 or the “Revised Guidelines for the Monitoring of Prices on the Sale of Petroleum Products by the Downstream Oil Industry in the Philippines.”

The TRO stemmed from a complaint filed by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. on June 24. The oil companies argued that the circular was leading the industry back to regulation.

Shell is a member of the Philippine Institute of Petroleum Inc. (PIP), which filed a “Petition for Declaratory Relief with Application for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction.”

Apart from Shell, PIP counts as members Chevron Philippines Inc., Isla LPG Corp., Petron Corp., PTT Philippines Corp., and Total Philippines Corp.

The DOE circular mandates oil companies to “unbundle” or provide the DOE with a detailed computation and corresponding explanation and supporting documents on why the prices of fuel products must be adjusted.

Oil companies adjust domestic fuel prices on a weekly basis, usually on Tuesday, based on price movements in global markets.

As for the TRO and other cases against the circular, Pulido said the DOE is now discussing with the Office of the Solicitor General whether it is practical to file a motion for reconsideration or just wait for it to lapse.

He said the DOE and OSG will decide within the week what legal moves it will resort to regarding the cases filed against implementing  the unbundling circular. —VDS, GMA News