Gatchalian lauds Petron’s plan to reopen refinery

SEN. Sherwin Gathalian said on Friday the planned reopening of Petron Corp.’s refinery in Bataan in July would be good news to the local oil and gas industry.

“Saving jobs when there’s a spike in new Covid-19 cases is very crucial while we continue to grapple with the impact of this pandemic,” said Gatchalian, noting that the refinery employs at least 3,000 workers.

SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian

Petron’s refinery, with a daily production of 96,980 barrels as of 2019, produces various petroleum products, including diesel, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel and petrochemicals.

Petron has a market demand share of 24.60 percent, supplying 33.12 percent of total petroleum products in the country based on 2019 data.

Petron has informed the Department of Energy on February 10 that it would temporarily cease its refinery operation to conduct maintenance activities on key process units.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee, said Petron president and chief executive officer Ramon Ang earlier bared plans of possibly permanently shutting down Petron’s 60-year-old oil plant due to huge losses brought about by the pandemic and unresolved taxation issues with the government.

Petron has recently completed the company’s registration with the Authority of the Freeport of Bataan (AFAB).

AFAB-registered companies are entitled to avail of fiscal incentives under the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 or the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987. These would benefit the company in the form of better timing on the payment of value-added tax upon the withdrawal of the products from the refinery.

Gatchalian explained that had Petron proceeded to permanently close the country’s sole remaining refinery, almost 1,000 refinery workers and 2,000 third party personnel would have lost their jobs.

“The possibility of the scenario wherein our country will be completely dependent on fuel imports for our supply is almost nil, given this development,” he said.