A new council is being eyed to be formed with the imprimatur of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to help solve the oil price woes faced by Boholano motorists.
The provincial board mulls the creation of an advisory council aimed to address the issues related to the high prices of petroleum products in the province.
Recently, the provincial board members passed a resolution for the creation of such council. The council will act similarly with the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG). The BEDAG is the advisory group which handles the solutions on the power issues besieging the province.
The resolution was passed during last week’s provincial board regular session.
Board member Tomas Abapo Jr., the chairman on the committee on rules, said the council will focus on ways to bring down the cost of fuel being sold in the province.
The council will be named the Petroleum Advisory Council (Petrolac), said Abapo.
ROOT OF OIL PRICE WOES
The Energy Department (DOE) has appeared finally, a couple of weeks ago, at the SP to discuss the reasons why oil prices in Bohol are higher compared to Cebu and Dumaguete.
Representatives of the DOE denied any any cartel operating here allegedly controlling the prices of oil and fuel products.
This was disclosed recently during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan probe on the higher fuel prices in the province compared to other Visayan cities.
While DOE’s representatives lawyer Rene Abad and Rey Maleza, science research specialist in the Visayas Field Office did not directly denied the existence of a cartel, the presence of only one distributor in the province has been causing a huge spike in the prices.
The DOE said 85 percent of the gasoline supply in the province is sourced from the Petron depot, where the two other members of the so-called Big 3 also get their supply.
The only difference is that the other gasoline retailers put additives on their products.
Since there is only one distributor in the province, the prices have been controlled as even the independent players which are supposed to be priced lower, but their prices are the same with the Big 3 too.
It was suggested to put up more depots here to increase the petroleum supply. This can spark competition and will trickle down to pricing mechanisms, eventually benefiting the consumers.
Another suggestion is to have a direct importation to get supply from Batangas or Bataan where the oil refineries are located.
This way, the supply will no longer pass through middlemen, which may also cause the pricing spike.
Based on the data released by the DOE during the session, Central Visayas consumes the most fuel products in all regions in the Visayas.
About 721 million barrels of gasoline are being consumed by Central Visayas compared to Eastern Visayas with consumption of 216 million barrels of gasoline and Western Visayas consuming 583 million barrels of gasoline.
On the other hand, Central Visayas consumed 965 million barrels of diesel fuel, as Eastern Visayas consumes 298 million barrels of diesel, while Western Visayas consumes 960 million barrels of diesel.
In Bohol, there are 73 gasoline stations, with two depots and no direct import terminals.
DOE said the depot capacity of Bohol is about 18,500 liters, which is not able to sufficiently supply the demand.
The DOE recommended the direct importation as the key in bringing down oil prices in the province.
This can be done by allowing investors for additional depot and encouraging more distributors for competition and ultimately better prices.
The attendance of representatives from the DOE finally puts into action the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s move to determine the reasons why the fuel prices in the province are high compared to Cebu City or Dumaguete City.
As early as August, the provincial board has been trying to invite resource persons to shed light on the reasons why the prices are high.
Initially, key players in the petrol business in the province snubbed the SP invite for a committee meeting.
With the snub, the SP turned to the DOE for explanation regarding the high prices.
Only one gas station manager attended the meeting called by the SP back in August.
Local fuel dealers, denied insinuations they are behind the alleged manipulation of petroleum prices in the city. They said Manila offices are the one that dictate the prices.
The SP set a hearing on September 1, inviting key officials of the DOE.
However, September 1 passed and no official from the DOE showed up due to pressing matters.
There have been ideas about local cooperatives setting up their own gasoline stations to provide cheaper gas to consumers.
It was also mulled, the provincial government should enter the petroleum business given the province has plenty of vehicles and extra savings can do a lot of wonders. (with reports from dyTR-AM)