Cartel manipulating oil pump prices, LPG here?


Oligopolists in the local oil market taking advantage of the alleged nationwide cartel must have been behind the higher prices of petroleum products in Bohol compared to prices in nearby provinces.

Former Governor Victor de la Serna was tempted to suspect this scenario amid the public’s clamor for explanation.

De la Serna said two to three businessmen in the province have allegedly been manipulating the prices of petroleum products here.

However, one of the key oil distributors, who requested anonymity, belied de la Serna’s allegation.

The Big 3-Shell, Petron, and Caltex-must be blamed, instead, he added.

De la Serna also disclosed that he has information to prove that at least three businessmen in the city are controlling the distribution of LPG.

“The manipulation of oil prices is worse than the problem of drug abuse,” according to De la Serna.

Moreover, the “cartelized” oil pump prices by the hands of the few among the local traders here have been evident in the wake of recent round of oil price hike at an average of P1.80 per liter and is expected to be followed by another round.

The jack-up of oil prices in the locality has added brunt to the drivers and operators alike, who have no choice but to pass it on to the riding public in the form of higher fare rates.

The country is heavily dependent, by about 80-percent of oil requirement, on petrol supply from other countries particularly those of the middle-east, based on the latest report of the Department of Energy (DOE).

De la Serna described the oil prices manipulation as “extortionate pricing” imposed by the cartel and he wants this stopped.

In fact, he said he is almost done with his study on how to go after this cartel and put the unscrupulous traders behind bars.

Asked what he wanted the DOE to do about the high oil prices, he said the DOE cannot do anything nor control the prices because it is a “toothless tiger.”

De la Serna minced no words of saying that those in the cartel are “displaying” their wealth in flashy cars. Others also are into expanding their capability in distribution by opening new retail outlets in some municipalities.

“This means the cartel is raking profits,” he added.

DISPARITY IN PRICES

Prices of gasoline and diesel are lower in Mindanao than in Bohol when Mindanao is farther away from Manila , he said.

De la Serna’s observation coincided with the fact that prices of gasoline in Cagayan de Oro are much lower than in Tagbilaran City .

The prices of LPG of other provinces like Cebu are different, lower by several pesos compared to those sold here.

In a check with local distributors, prices of oil products–including lubricants-indeed differ.

In a Caltex station here, diesel is now sold at P50.05/liter; Silver gasoline, P59.10/liter; regular gasoline, P55.05; and kerosene, P51.85.

In a Petrons outlet here, diesel is of the price in Calex; while XCS gasoline is sold at P59.80; regular gasoline at P54.85; and Xtra gasoline at P59.10 per liter.

LPG prices sold in the city also vary. Pryce Gas is now sold at P900 per 11-kg. tank compared to its price in December at P852.

Shellane gas is now sold here at P919/ 11-kg container, higher than its previous price.

Move vs. Cartel

De la Serna bared that he would recommend to Gov. Edgar Chatto for a drastic move based on his study to counter this “extortionate” oil pricing imposed by the cartel in the province.

He said if Gov. Gwen Garcia did it in Cebu, why can’t it be done in Bohol.

One of the oil distributors here, who said he’s one of the committee members formed by Chatto, agreed that Bohol should replicate what is done in Cebu against the oil companies.

He said welcoming small players or the independent suppliers had also been thought. But he admitted that, indeed, oil prices in the province are higher than in Cebu and even in Mindanao .

Dela Serna, for his part, disagreed that small traders coming in the province could help stabilize the prices of petroleum products.

He said the small players still can be convinced by big players (Petron, Caltex and Shell) to impose mark-up on their products for profit.

Perhaps, none among the small players does not want more profit, he added.(RVO)

 


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