Inq7 - 7/5/2006
PRESIDENT Macapagal-Arroyo will explore ways to soften the impact of rising crude oil prices on the Filipino people in her talks with top officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country's main source of oil.
"We still don't know the possible arrangements that can be agreed on, whether this will be on supply or the price," Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said.
Defensor said that a possibility would be to course Saudi Arabia's support through Saudi Aramco which also owns Petron Corp., the country's biggest petroleum company, in partnership with the Philippine government.
"She might explore the links between Saudi Aramco and Petron to make special arrangements to ease the impact of oil prices on the public," Defensor said. Ms Arroyo is expected to tour the facilities of Aramco during her visit.
In her departure statement yesterday, President Arroyo said: "I have high hopes for the future of our relations and I hope that my visit to Saudi Arabia will further strengthen our ties, reinforce commitments, as well as open new avenues for cooperation and engagement."
The President has encouraged Petron and other oil suppliers to sell discounted diesel in more gasoline stations outside Metro Manila to benefit more public utility drivers.
For the second time this month, oil firms yesterday raised pump prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene by 50 centavos a liter.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Chevron Philippines Inc. raised prices Saturday morning, followed by new player Flying V at 12:01 a.m. today.
Eastern Petroleum Corp. increased prices at 5 a.m., followed by Petron Corp. and Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc. an hour later.
The oil firms cited the increase in international oil prices for the latest price hike.
Data from the Department of Energy showed that Dubai crude jumped to an average of $68.23 a barrel as of May 3 from $64.14 a barrel in April.