Crude costs drop $20/bbl, price rollback seen

Fuel prices could fall by as much as P10 a liter next week if world prices continue to slide, industry sources said Tuesday, after crude dropped by $20 a barrel amid reports of ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine and COVID-19 lockdowns in China that could dampen demand for oil.

PEDAL POWER. The billboards of the new adjusted prices of Petron in Visayas Avenue, Caltex, and Shell on G. Araneta Avenue, all in Quezon City. Ben Briones

Reuters reported Monday that Brent crude dropped to $100.95 per barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slid below $100 for the first time since March 1.

“There is good news. There will be a price rollback,” one source told the Standard but adding that the trading numbers

in the remaining four days would provide a clearer picture of the extent of the rollback.

“Let’s hope the downward trend continues,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

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In March alone, gasoline went up by P11.90 per liter and diesel shot up by P19.80 per liter, reflecting the volatility of oil prices in the world market.

Meanwhile, San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes urged the government to immediately release subsidies for public utility vehicle drivers and operators as a way to mitigate the effect of runaway fuel prices.

Robes, chairperson of the House committee on people’s participation, said the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the past weeks has raised the prices of crude oil to more than US$110 per barrel in the world market.

This has led to an exponential increase of local prices of petroleum products by ₱3.60 on gasoline per liter, ₱5.85/l on diesel, ₱4.10/l on kerosene and P3 per kilogram for liquefied petroleum gas last week, the lawmaker said.

This has dramatically increased gas prices from P59 to P62 on average per liter of diesel, P68 to P75 average per liter of gasoline, and P1,053 per 11-kg cylinder of LPG.

The 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) provides for at least P5 billion in automatic fuel subsidy whenever world oil prices breach US$80 per barrel.

Robes said the runaway price in petroleum products is expected to further burden the already long-suffering public utility drivers who have yet to recover from the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The DoTR and the LTFRB are tasked to issue the fuel subsidies. However, it is taking some time to release the assistance supposedly due to certain requirements needed from drivers,” Robes said in her Resolution.

She said the exponential increase in oil prices has created “an extraordinary situation for our drivers that needs immediate and decisive action from our government offices, particularly in this case, the DOTr and LTFRB.”

The two agencies “should be mindful of the exigency of the situation and proceed with dispatch the immediate release of the fuel subsidy in order to give reprieve to our public utility drivers who are still reeling from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Robes said.

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