Petron workers seek LGU’s ‘intervention’ to stop closure

LIMAY, Bataan – Workers of the Petron refinery here have appealed to the local government unit (LGU) to help prevent the reported shutting down next month of the country’s biggest and only remaining oil plant.

Thom de Villa, refinery shift superintendent, on Saturday said they are seeking the support of town Mayor Nelson David and other officials to help save the revenue-strapped oil refinery from closing which surely will result in the displacement of many workers.

“Kung magtutuloy ang pagsasara, hindi lang kaming mga empleyado ng Petron ang tatamaan sakaling matuloy ito kundi pati na ang mga taong sa amin lang umaasa, lalo na’t panahon ng pandemya (If the closure will push through, not only us, the employees of Petron, will be affected but also the people who depend on us, especially during this time of pandemic),” he said in an interview.

Reportedly to be affected are almost 1,000 Petron refinery workers and over 2,000 third party personnel, including suppliers and contractors.

Also feared to be affected is the country’s oil supply. The refinery has a daily rated capacity of 180,000 barrels. It produces various fuel products, including diesel, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, Jet A-1 as well as petrochemicals.

“Sama-sama kaming humihingi ng tulong sa pamahalaan ng Limay na tulungan ang Petron. Naniniwala kami na malaki ang magagawa ng pamahalaan para hindi tuluyang magsara ang refinery. Kung magtulungan sila at ang pamunuan ng kumpanya, may paraan pa para maisalba ang refinery. Bahagi na ng Bataan ang Petron refinery (Together, we are asking for help from the Limay government to help Petron. We believe that the government can do a lot to prevent the refinery from closing completely. If they and the company management work together, there is still a way to save the refinery. The Petron refinery is already part of Bataan,” de Villa said.

He said the oil plant has been operating in Barangay Alangan in Limay for 60 years.

De Villa said they are also supportive of a proposal to reclassify the refinery as part of the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) in Mariveles, next to Limay.

“Sa tulong ng pamahalaan ng Limay, sana ay maiparating sa national government ang aming saloobin. Suportado namin ang Petron sa nais nitong maisama ang refinery sa Bataan freeport at sana matulungan kami ng munisipyo sa bagay na ito (With the help of the Limay government, hopefully we can convey our sentiments to the national government. We support Petron in its desire to include the refinery in Bataan freeport and we are confident the municipality will help us in this matter,” he said.

The employees believe that the move would help stop the refiner’s financial bleeding as it will partially address some of the company’s major woes.

Media reports said Petron Corporation president Ramon S. Ang lamented that the refiner is taxed upon importation of crude oil while importers are charged at the finished products level, putting the refiner at a significant disadvantage due to much higher taxes.

Ang said volatility in world crude prices, which ultimately result in huge inventory losses, coupled with the prolonged decline in demand due to the continuing effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic on transportation and industries, has further worsened the refinery’s financial woes. (PNA)

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