Philippine 2006 net oil import volume slips 2.6pct

Philippine 2006 net oil import volume slips 2.6pct

Net oil imports to the Philippines fell 2.6 percent in volume terms last year partly due to conservation measures implemented as prices soared, the government said on Sunday.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said the country’s net oil imports fell to 100.8 million barrels last year compared with 103.46 million in 2005.

However, the Southeast Asian country’s net oil import bill rose 19 percent to $6.8 billion last year from US$5.7 billion in 2005.

The government said total consumption of petroleum products fell 7 percent to 101 million barrels from 109 million barrels in 2005. This translates to an average daily consumption of 276,500 barrels in 2006 compared with 298,300 in 2005.

“While the impact of the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol may not have contributed significantly in 2006, as both biodiesel and bioethanol are still being used on a voluntary basis, the decrease in consumption may be attributed to high costs of petroleum products and demand side management programmes initiated by the government,” the Department of Energy said in a statement.

Local oil demand has been falling as Filipinos become more conscious of the need to conserve, in view of the volatile prices of petroleum products in the world market, Lotilla said.

The country’s daily oil consumption peaked at about 385,000 barrels per day in 1997, dropped to 329,000 barrels per day in 2000 and stood at 276,500 barrels per day last year, he said.

“The decline in oil consumption is a welcome development in view of the country’s energy independence agenda,” Lotilla said.

Lotilla said he expected domestic oil use to further shrink this year as the Philippines was set to impose next month the mandatory use of 1 percent biodiesel for automotive diesel in compliance with a new biofuels law.

Crude oil processed by Philippine refiners last year also dropped 2.6 percent to 77.160 million barrels from 79.255 million in 2005 due to either maintenance shutdown in some of the refinery units or power outages brought by strong typhoons that hit the country, Lotilla said.

This also resulted to a decline of 1.8 percent in the local refinery capacity utilisation to 72.9 percent last year from 74.2 percent in 2005, the government said.

The Philippines’ two oil refiners, Petron Corp. and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., a unit of the Royal/Dutch Shell group , have a combined refinery capacity of 290,000 barrels per day. Local refiners also export some of their finished products.

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