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December 22, 2014

THE MANILA STANDARD TODAY: 'Exempt tankers from truck ban'

AMID the Supreme Court’s order last November to shut down Pandacan oil depot, Rep. Arnel Ty of LPG-MA partylist on Friday said the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) must realize that fuel tankers need unhampered delivery of petroleum products from Batangas and Bataan.

“The MMDA may have to exempt fuel tanker trucks from the road ban, if only to avoid supply disruption, which may be exploited by abusive traders as an excuse to prop up pump prices, or to delay further price roll-backs,” he said.

The MMDS prohibits trucks on the road from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day, except Sundays and holidays.

Oil companies have been rolling back pump prices due to the 40 percent drop in the cost of crude oil in the world markets since June, Ty said.

He voiced concern that profiteers might take advantage of supply chain glitches due to the closure of the Pandacan depot as a pretext to keep prices elevated.

Ty noted the warning issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) that fuel prices may rise after Pilipinas Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp. and Chevron Corp.(formerly Caltext Philippines Inc.) wind down their Pandacan operations to comply with the Supreme Court order.

The extra cost factor will come from the “Big Three” having to obtain their bulk supplies by road using tanker trucks, instead of sea-based barges, from their oil refineries and terminals in Batangas and Bataan, according to DOE Undersecretary Zenaida Monsada.

“Prices may be affected, considering the difference in transport costs using a truck compared to barge,” she said.

Monsada said some 70 percent of petroleum products in Luzon, including Metro Manila, come from the 33-hectare Pandacan depot in Manila, where the Big Three maintained storage facilities and distribution terminals.

She said one to two days of lag time in transporting oil products from Batangas and Bataan.

The Supreme Court finally ordered oild firms to transfer their facilities, saying the Pandacan depot put Manila residents at grave risk in the event of a terrorist attack.

The Nov. 25 ruling struck down as unconstitutional Manila City Ordinance 8187, which had secured the depot’s continued operation.

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