Energy chief says local oil prices ‘will suffer’ if war between Ukraine and Russia persists

MANILA, Philippines — Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Wednesday rising pump prices in the country would be hit harder if the war between Ukraine and Russia escalates further.

Even though the country has ample supply, Cusi encouraged the public to save on petroleum products for the time being.

“If the war [between Ukraine and Russia] continues, our oil prices will suffer. So what we expect is that the prices will go up,” he said in Filipino at a Kapihan sa Manila Bay briefing hosted by Marichu Villanueva.

For him, the country is currently not experiencing any oil supply disruption, even if the Philippines depends above all on the world oil market which is experiencing supply tensions.

“As far as what is happening now, we have no shortage of [oil] supply our country, but I ask the public to conserve the use of oil and electricity,” Cusi said.

If the price in Dubai reaches $120 per barrel, diesel and gasoline prices will increase by 14.5 pesos per liter and 9.05 pesos per liter respectively.

On February 28, the price in Dubai reached $96.89 per barrel.

“We do not directly import oil from Russia”

According to Cusi, the Philippines does not directly import its oil from Russia.

“We have [our supply] from the Middle East, and then we get our finished products from our neighbors, Japan, Korea and China,” he said.

The head of the Department of Energy (DOE) added that Russia exports 58% of its crude oil to the European Union and the remaining 42% to Asia-Pacific.

Russia exports five million barrels of oil a day, according to Cusi. The country is considered one of the largest energy producers in the world.

At home, local oil companies have announced a new round of fuel price hikes for the ninth consecutive week. Gasoline rose by 0.9 P per litre, diesel by 0.8 P per liter and kerosene by 0.75 P per litre.

Since the first week of March, members of the public have been required to pay an additional 9.65 pesos per liter of petrol; P11.65 more per liter of diesel; and P10.3 more per liter of kerosene.

A “call of conscience” to the candidates

Cusi advised national and local candidates running for office this year not to participate in their regular motorcades amid continued oil price hikes.

“We call on candidates not to organize caravans or motorcades as this will help save fuel,” he said, adding that it was an “appeal of conscience”.

Bets for higher positions are now touring the country campaigning for themselves and their political parties.

The campaign period for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates began on February 8.

The government has laid bare its plans to provide subsidies and rebates totaling 3 billion pesos to the public transport and agriculture sectors hit by the constant hikes in fuel prices.

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