Government remiss in duty in not getting back control of Petron – Bayan Muna

BAYAN MUNA Rep. Teddy Casiño today bewailed the government’s refusal to “grab the golden opportunity to wrest back control of Petron” by refusing to exercise its right to buy even a portion of Aramco’s 40 percent stake in Petron, which is being sold to London-based investment group Ashmore.

“The government has and should maximize its right of first refusal in this case. In the face of rampaging manipulation of oil prices in the world and local markets, it would be wise, nay brilliant for government to get back a majority stake in Petron so that it can effectively control pump prices and give some relief to the transport, manufacturing, service and energy sectors that are largely dependent on oil,” Rep. Casiño said.

Aramco Overseas Co. has agreed to sell its 40-percent stake in Petron to the Ashmore group’s SEA Refinery Holdings after a 14-year partnership with the Philippine government. PNOC was given 60 days, until May 12, to match the offer.

“The matter is about political will. Government can easily shell out P4 or P5 billion to increase its stake in the country’s biggest oil refiner and retailer by a mere 11 percent to have an absolute majority of 51 percent. With majority control on Petron that has the biggest number of gas stations nationwide, government will gain major market leverage and can temper pump prices,” Casiño said.

Saudi Aramco is selling its 40% stake to the London-based Ashmore Group for US$550 million [approximately P23 billion]. The Gokongwei family offered P24.65 billion on Wednesday to take the government’s Petron stake, which it holds through Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC).

“This government will be better off by expanding its stake in Petron. The so-called budget and time constraints can be outdone by fierce government political will to help provide tangible relief to the people from predatory pricing and ensuring revenues from Petron in the long term. Government must immediately act and corner 11 percent more in Petron,” Casiño stressed. #

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