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Shell wants gov't to come in on Pandacan oil depot issue

MANILA, Philippines - Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. is seeking the National Government’s intervention to resolve the pending issue in the Pandacan oil depot.

But Shell will comply with the final decision on the Manila City council’s plans for the oil depot, a company official said.

Roberto Kanapi, vice-president for corporate communications of Shell, said the company wants to initiate discussions with the National Government.

“We are trying to see how we can engage the government, especially the National Government, to protect not only Pandacan but also other investments in the future because this can always happen anywhere,” he said.

Last week, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim vetoed a proposed city ordinance seeking the removal of the oil depot by 2016. However, the city council reversed the mayor’s veto of the ordinance.

“We take this opportunity, however, to raise the broader policy implication of spot zoning and local ordinances on strategic facilities and infrastructure for national government to address,” Kanapi said.

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City Ordinance 8283 plans to reclassify the Pandacan oil depot area as commercial from its current industrial status. This will prompt companies to move out of the area.

Kanapi said Shell wants to start discussions with the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Interior and Local Government or the Office of the President.

“Shell will, for the meantime, let this legislative process progress,” Kanapi said.

The oil industry giant has maintained that its more than 90 years of operations in the oil depot is at par with safety regulations.

“We do not share the premise of the city council that Pandacan [oil depot] is a risk to the community,” Kanapi said.

Kanapi added that numerous agencies like the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police and Coast Guard have also given Shell a clean bill of health in operational excellence.

In 2009, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of a city council resolution re-classifying the oil depot in Pandacan as a commercial zone.

However, the former city council passed Ordinance No. 8187 re-classifying the area as a heavy industrial zone, allowing the oil depot to stay in the city indefinitely.

Kanapi said the removal of the oil depot dampens foreign investors’ confidence in the Philippines and deters the creation of jobs.

DOE Secretary Jose Rene Almendras earlier said that the resolution will send a signal that investors can be kicked out by legislation.

“We comply with all laws. At the end of the day, we will just have to comply with what the council will require us to do,” Kanapi said.

Earlier, Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, said it will spend $500 million to move out of the Pandacan oil depot before the 2016 deadline.

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