Oil firms to abide by ‘rule of law’

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Oil companies said yesterday they would comply with the rule of law after the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday upheld its earlier decision ordering oil firms to leave the Pandacan depot.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. said it would study the decision of the high tribunal.

“We shall study the implications of the Supreme Court decision and shall review the options available to Shell. Rest assured that Shell will observe the rule of law,” Shell said.

Shell country chairman Ed Chua bared last month that Shell has no alternative facility for the depot.

“We will simply close the facility and people will be jobless. It’s a major expense to relocate,” Chua said.

Similarly, Chevron, owner of the Caltex brand, said it would also comply with the rule of law.

“We have yet to receive a copy of the decision hence cannot fully comment on the matter. But please be clarified that what we filed was a simple motion for clarification, not a motion for reconsideration. Finally, we will comply with the final ruling of the Supreme Court on this issue,” Chevron said.

The SC last year ordered oil companies to relocate their Pandacan terminals. Shell and Petron both have depots in the area while Chevron moved out in June last year.

Petron, the country’s leading oil refining and marketing company, for its part, has said it is ready to stop its fuel supply operations at the Pandacan terminal following the SC order last year.

Petron chairman and chief executive officer Ramon Ang has said the company is committed to cease operations in Pandacan by 2016.

He also assured the public that the transfer would not adversely affect fuel prices and supply.

Residents of Pandacan in Manila have long been complaining of the risks of having the oil depot in their area.

Last year, the depot was again at the center of debates following an oil spill from a bunker fuel warehouse in Old Panaderos in Sta. Ana.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada assured residents of Manila that despite the removal of the Pandacan oil depot, there would still be more jobs for Manileños.

Estrada said that the city government is presently negotiating with the owner of the land where the Pandacan oil depot is located for the setting up of a business zone in the area.

“It (Pandacan oil depot) is a private property. But we are negotiating with the owner for the transformation of the area into an income-generating site,” he said.

He added that several businessmen have expressed their intention to do business in the property once the oil depot is gone.

Some investors have also proposed to build high-rise buildings, malls and other establishments, he said.

“The city government will become more stable should that plan push through. We will not only be able to pay our debts in electricity and water, but we will also be able to have more savings that could fund some of our programs for the poor Manileños,” he added.

The former president earlier said that the oil companies have only until January next year to vacate the depot.

The 33-hectare depot, the largest in the country, houses the storage facilities and distribution terminals of the country’s major petroleum industry players. – With Jose Rodel Clapano

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