Philippine energy chief sees tough times for local refineries

Philippine Department of Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras told a parliamentary Energy Committee that it was very likely that one of two refineries in the Philippines could shut down, as it is cheaper to import oil products rather than process crude oil in the country. Almendras did not identify which of the two refineries (Petron Corp. or Pilipinas Shell) was more likely to shut down. Petron operates an 180,000-barrel per day (bpd) refinery in northern Luzon, while Pilipinas Shell operates a 110,000-bpd refinery in southern Luzon. Caltex, the local unit of Chevron, now imports oil products, having mothballed its refinery in 2003. Increased refining capacity in China and other Asian countries would make it cheaper for the Philippines to import oil products, Almendras said. One company, he added, had already spoken with the Department of Energy on the economic difficulties of maintaining its refining operations in the Philippines. (September 8, 2010)