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Business

Petron fasttracks $100-M Bataan refinery

- Donnabelle L. Gatdula -
Petron Corp., the country’s largest oil refiner, has started the construction of its $100- million isomerization and hydrotreater refinery plants in Bataan, a top company official said.

"We have already ordered the equipment and supply that will signal the start of the project. We firmed up everything and get that (project) moving," Petron chairman Nicasio Alcantara said.

Energy Secretary Vincent S. Perez has recognized the effort of Petron to push through with project amid reports of Caltex Philippines Inc.’s decision to close down its refinery in Batangas.

"While Caltex is modifying its business strategy in the region and in the country, we have another oil company, Petron Corp. in particular, which has decided on a different tack to invest about $100 million on its refinery operations," Perez said.

The isomerization and hydrotreater plants will enable Petron to produce Clean Air Act (CAA)-compliant fuel in the country, the only refinery to do so.

These two projects are expected to be completed by end-2004 or 15 months after the start of construction.

Other big oil companies, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Caltex, have opted to import some blending materials to just comply with the CAA requirement.

With the CAA, the Philippines is the only country in Asia that has a very strict requirement of 35/2 aromatics/benzene content. While some countries would require 30-percent aromatics, their benzene levels are way above the two-percent content.

Other countries, on the other hand, require one-percent benzene content but the aromatics content is usually above the 35-percent level.

The DOE issued the rules and regulations for the implementation of the new CAA gasoline specification starting Jan. 2003.

In a circular last year, Perez said these guidelines shall apply to all persons engaged in the manufacture, importation, storage, distribution, supply, marketing and/or selling of gasoline including without limitation oil companies, refineries, importers, blenders, bulk marketers, suppliers and retailers.

Beginning Jan.1, 2003, only gasoline fuel containing a maximum aromatics and benzene content of 35 percent and two percent (by volume), respectively, may be manufactured, imported, sold, supplied, offered for sale, dispensed, transported or introduced into commerce in the Philippines.

Upon the effectivity of the circular, all persons engaged in the importation of gasoline and/gasoline blending components shall submit to the DOE as part of reportorial requirements under Republic Act 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Law.

BEGINNING JAN

CALTEX PHILIPPINES INC

CLEAN AIR ACT

ENERGY SECRETARY VINCENT S

NICASIO ALCANTARA

OIL DEREGULATION LAW

PEREZ

PETRON

PETRON CORP

PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM CORP

REPUBLIC ACT

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