Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for an inquiry on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas sectors to determine the measures that the government needs to implement to ensure the country’s energy security.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, has filed Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 389, days after the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that at least 10 percent or 900 oil stations out of the 9,003 service stations nationwide have already suspended operations since the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Gatchalian expressed concern that strict quarantine measures have resulted in the reduction of transport, industrial, and commercial activities leading to an overall decrease in energy consumption and a drastic drop in global oil demand.
The drop in global oil demand has also been experienced in the country, according to the senator, as strict mobility restrictions diminished demand and threatens the viability of small and independent retailers which currently account for 41.7% of the domestic market.
“Since the country is mainly dependent on imported fuel, Congress has to know about the short, medium, and long-term effects and implications of COVID-19 on the oil and gas industry, in particular, the status of oil and gas exploration projects towards energy security,” Gatchalian said.
“Importante na ngayon pa lamang ay malaman natin ang mga plano at hakbang na ating tatahakin upang siguruhin na hindi malalagay sa alanganin ang seguridad ng enerhiya sa bansa. Nakasalalay dito ang kapakanan nating lahat, lalo na’t kung walang sapat na enerhiya ay maraming maaantalang industriya na makakaapekto sa maraming trabaho,” he shared.
Gatchalian said the health crisis in the country has resulted in the postponement of the opening of proposals to develop potential oil and gas sources due logistical disruptions. The low demand for oil has also weighed heavily on the decision to hold plans to drill and explore potential oil and gas sources.
Quarantine measures implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19 has caused the delay of the proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) import projects, which according to the lawmaker, is expected to be finalized by the DOE within the year.