Gov't eyes importing oil from non-OPEC members

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — With global oil prices on the rise, the government is working on importing oil from non-members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a Palace official said.

In a radio interview Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are looking into cheaper sources of oil from countries that are not a part of the OPEC, which includes Russia.

The Philippines traditionally sources its fuel from OPEC countries.

"At tinitingnan po natin iyong posibilidad na sa diesel man lang, kasi diesel po ay makaangkat tayo galing sa bansang Russia," Roque said.

[Translation: And we're looking into the possibility that, even if it's just diesel, we could import from Russia.]

The Philippines is also looking into importing from Venezuela.

"Iyong Venezuela nga at saka Russia eh nag-increase sila ng output at hindi sila sakop ng OPEC," Roque said.

[Translation: Venezuela and Russia increased their oil outputs and they are not a part of OPEC.]

However, Venezuela is an OPEC founding member, which is currently facing its own oil crisis.

Roque added they are already in talks with members of the private sector so that, should a cheaper source of fuel be found, it would be distributed at a lower price.

"Nakipag-ugnayan na rin po sa pribadong sektor iyong mga distribution. At sila naman po ay tutugon sa tawag ng panahon, at kung makakaangkat tayo ng mas mababang diesel, ang pangako nila, ibebenta nila sa mas mababang presyo," the spokesperson said.

[Translation: We are coordinating with distributors from the private sector. And should the time come and we are able to import diesel at a cheaper price, they promised that they would sell it at a lower price.]

Global oil prices are on the rise, which affects local commodity prices along with the fuel excise tax implemented by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law this year.

The prices for both Brent crude oil and Dubai crude oil, both benchmarks of global oil prices, hover around the $75 per barrel mark.

The TRAIN has a provision that prevents the increase of the excise tax on fuel should the price of Dubai crude oil stay at the $80 per barrel mark from October to December this year.

However, several lawmakers are calling for the suspension of the fuel excise tax provision of the TRAIN given its effect on the prices of basic goods and services.