PHILSTAR

A BILL has been filed at the House of Representatives that would require fuel companies to maintain a minimum inventory of 30 days’ estimated consumption and to disclose in detail their costs after imported fuel is landed.

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel M. Arroyo, chairman of the House Committee on Energy, said House Bill 10505 is intended to ensure energy security and price transparency. The measure proposes to amend the oil industry deregulation law.

The amendments had been requested by the Department of Energy (DoE) in a letter to Congress on Oct. 19. The DoE said such a measure would “ensure a level playing field” within the oil industry while protecting consumers.

The 30-day inventory requirement applies to refiners, importers, and bulk distributors on a per company, per depot, and per product basis.

A Minimum Inventory Requirement compliance report is to be filed with the Department of Energy (DoE) weekly.

The measure will also require the detailed disclosure of fuel companies’ costs after the fuel is imported, including port charges, refining costs, and marketing costs. The price of crude, foreign exchange losses or gains, and freight, remain unregulated.

The fuel industry is also required to submit an annual downstream oil industry development plan to the DoE which includes business plans, management models in the conduct of business, and other items as may be required by the DoE.

In case of a determination of “unreasonable” petroleum product prices, a task force will be formed by the Oil Industry Management Bureau and the DoE’s Legal Services office to investigate, with action expected within 30 days.

The bill will prescribe penalties for violating the oil deregulation law such as fines of P50,000 to P300,000, along with a suspension or revocation of registration from the DoE or other government agencies.

They may also be liable for imprisonment of three months to one year.

The House Committee on Ways and Means approved a bill on Nov. 11 to suspend or lower the excise tax on some fuel products for six months.

The measure is now awaiting second reading at the plenary.

On Tuesday, oil companies rolled back the price of gasoline by P0.85 per liter while diesel and kerosene prices fell by P1.20 and P1.30 respectively.

As of Nov. 16, year-to-date pump prices for gasoline and diesel have increased by P20.05/L and P17.50/L, respectively, according to the DoE. — Russell Louis C. Ku