Senator Win Gatchalian said reports of Petron Corporation’s refinery resuming operation in Bataan by midyear sends a positive signal to the oil and gas industry as it will ensure the continuous employment of at least 3,000 workers and contribute to supply stability which may result in lower fuel prices in the country.
Petron temporarily ceased its refinery operation last February 10 to conduct maintenance activities on key process units and has informed the Department of Energy (DOE) that the shutdown would last for four months. Prior to this, Petron president and chief executive officer Ramon Ang bared plans of possibly permanently shutting down the oil plant that has been operating for 60 years due to huge losses brought about by the pandemic and unresolved taxation issues with the government.
Just recently, the company has announced plans of reopening the refinery plant sometime July following the completion of the company’s registration with the Authority of the Freeport of Bataan (AFAB). AFAB-registered companies are entitled to avail of fiscal incentives under the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 or the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987. This would benefit the company in the form of better timing on the payment of value-added tax (VAT) upon the withdrawal of the products from the refinery.
“Saving jobs when there’s a spike in new COVID-19 cases is very crucial while we continue to grapple with the impact of this pandemic,” the Senate Energy Committee Chairperson said.
Citing 2019 data, Petron has a market demand share of 24.60%, supplying 33.12% of total petroleum products in the country. Petron’s refinery has a daily production of 96,980 barrels as of 2019 and produces various petroleum products including diesel, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), jet fuel, and petrochemicals, Gatchalian said.
Had it proceeded to permanently close the country’s sole remaining refinery, almost 1,000 of Petron’s refinery workers and 2,000 third party personnel that include suppliers and contractors would have lost their jobs, the senator added.
“The possibility of the scenario wherein our country will be completely dependent on fuel imports for our supply is almost nil, given this development,” said Gatchalian.