No oil cartel in Bohol

The Department of Energy denies any cartel operating here allegedly controlling the prices of oil and fuel products.

This was disclosed recently during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan probe on the higher fuel prices in the province compared to other Visayan cities.

While DOE’s  representatives lawyer Rene Abad and Rey Maleza, science research specialist in the Visayas Field Office did not directly denied the existence of a cartel, the presence of only one distributor in the province has been causing a huge spike in the prices.

The DOE said 85 percent of the gasoline supply in the province is sourced from the Petron depot, where the two other members of the so-called Big 3 also get their supply.

The only difference is that the other gasoline retailers put additives on their products.

Since there is only one distributor in the province, the prices have been controlled as even the independent players which are supposed to be priced lower but their prices are the same with the Big 3 too.

It was suggested to put up more depots here to increase the number of petroleum supply. This can spark competition and will trickle down to pricing mechanisms that can benefit the consumers.

Another suggestion is to have a direct importation to get supply from Batangas or Bataan where the oil refineries are located.

This way, the supply will no longer pass through middlemen, which may also cause the pricing spike.

HEARINGS

The attendance of representatives from the DOE finally puts into action the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s move to determine the reasons why the fuel prices in the province are high compared to Cebu City or Dumaguete City.

As early as August, the provincial board has been trying to invite resource persons to shed light on the reasons why the prices are high.

Initially, key players in the petrol business in the province snubbed the SP invite for a committee meeting.

With the snub, the SP turned to the DOE for explanation regarding the high prices.

Only one gas station manager attended the meeting called by the SP back in August.

Local fuel dealers, denied insinuations they are behind the alleged manipulation of petroleum prices in the city. They said Manila offices are the one that dictate the prices.

The SP set a hearing on September 1, inviting key officials of the DOE.

However, September 1 passed and no official from the DOE showed up due to pressing matters.

There have been ideas about local cooperatives setting up their own gasoline stations to provide cheaper gas to consumers.

It was also mulled, the provincial government should enter the petroleum business given the province has plenty of vehicles and extra savings can do a lot of wonders. (with reports from dyTR-AM)

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