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March 18, 2015

JOURNAL ONLINE: High LPG prices blamed on suppliers

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker has asked the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice tojointly look into reports that some suppliers are jacking up prices of cooking gas despite its lowcost in the international market.    LPG-Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) Rep. Arnel Ty said that a number of bulk suppliers haveoverpriced LPG, making consumers complain of the spike in the domestic price of cooking gas.   A task  force was created by the  DoJ and DoE to  investigate  anomalies  in  the  LPG supply,especially unwarranted increase in prices. While Ty refused to name the profiteering suppliers, he said a list was already given to the twoagencies as well as the task force to investigate.“We’ve  already  filed  with  the  DoE-DoJ  task  force  a  report  concerning  the unreasonableescalation in the price of LPG being sold by some bulk suppliers. Under the law, the task force issupposed to act promptly on the complaint,” Ty said.According to Ty, several bulk suppliers recently jacked up their LPG prices by 50 centavos perkilo (or P5.50 per 11-kilogram cylinder) for retail consumers, and by P1.00 to P1.50 per kilo forbulk customers.

“The increases are uncalled for, considering that the international contract price of LPG has beenfairly stable,” Ty said.    He noted that the contract price of LPG abroad was $471 per ton in February and $472 per tonthis March. “This ought to translate to an insignificant increment of not more than four centavos per kilolocally,” Ty added.    However, some bulk suppliers decided to disproportionately push up their prices by 50 centavosfor retail buyers, and up to P1.50 per kilo for wholesale purchasers.     The lawmaker said that this is excessive and abusive, and the task force should not let this passwithout an investigation.     Republic  Act  8180,  or the  Downstream Oil  Industry Deregulation  Law,  provides that:  “Anyreport  from any person of an unreasonable rise  in the prices of petroleum products shall  beimmediately acted upon by the DoE-DoJ Task Force, which is mandated to determine the meritsof the report and to initiate the necessary action warranted under the circumstance to preventcartelization, among others.” 

The price of the global benchmark Brent crude oil has plunged below $55 per barrel as of Friday,from a high of $115 in June last year.Like gasoline, diesel and kerosene, LPG is derived from refining crude oil.    The country imports between 70 to 80 percent of its LPG supplies, owing to the limited capacityof the two domestic refineries run by Petron Corp. and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.

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