Oil firms asked to shelve plans to raise prices

As OPEC OKs hike in output

Malacanang urged oil firms yesterday to shelve their plan to raise the fuel prices, following the decision of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to raise their production levels.
Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora said the OPEC decision renders moot the oil firms' plan to impose a new fuel price hike. 

"Kung di ganoon kalaki, why go through the aggravation, di ba? Bakit makikipagguluhan pa? Baka naman puwedeng tiisin nang konti sapagka't bumabagsak na rin ang presyo (If the price hike won't be that much, why go through all the trouble and instigate protests from various sectors? Perhaps the oil companies can wait for a while since crude oil prices are expected to drop anyway)," Zamora said in an interview. 

According to reports, the oil cartel has decided to raise output levels by 3 percent -- 710,000 barrels a day -- in a bid to control spiraling oil prices. 

Reports also stated that United States Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has welcomed the move, saying it would be good news to consumers. The US is OPEC's biggest customer. 

The oil members of the OPEC member countries also said they are looking at a target price of $25 per barrel, from a high of $33 in past weeks, the reports said. 

"Kaya palagay ko kung may itataas ang oil companies di puwedeng masyadong malaki. Ang $25 yan ang presyong dinaanan natin just a few weeks ago (If oil firms decide to do so, they cannot increase prices too much. The $25 per barrel being targeted by the OPEC was the same price level that we had just a few weeks ago)," he said. 

Earlier, the government asked oil companies to wait for the outcome of the OPEC meeting before pushing through with their plan to raise prices of their products. 

President Joseph Estrada said he might call a meeting with executives of oil firms if they insist on raising their prices. 


Speaker Manuel B. Villar said yesterday on the OPEC decision to increase production by 3 percent: 

"With the decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase production in July by 3%, the country's oil firms must now study the possibility of lowering the prices of their products. 

"Filpino consumers have been burdened with the spiraling costs of oil prices, and this development, which may result in lower crude oil prices in the world market must be taken into consideration by oil firms. 

"It is only logical that a rollback in oil prices be in order soon." 


The government was asked in the House of Representatives yesterday to strengthen the Philippine peso as an effective way of bringing down the prices of oil products. 

Bohol Rep. Ernesto F. Herrera said the administration "must do better to strengthen the peso as this would work to cut down the prices of oil products." 

He said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to raise crude oil production by 710,000 barrels per day yesterday but this "may not even be enough reason for the Big 3 oil companies to suspend the increase in the prices of oil products. 

He said OPEC members "could have increased their production by one million barrels a day, but we doubt if this would dent the iron will of the local oil cartel to raise prices." 

The Bohol lawmaker said it was "useless to appeal to the social conscience of the big oil companies dead-set on getting back their under-recovered funds." 

"Government can stem the upward surge of oil prices by stabilizing the local currency," he said. 

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