DOE’s Erquiza says sourcing oil from Russia not that easy

Sourcing oil from Russia cannot be easily implemented because of technical and diplomatic issues, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).  

In a televised interview last Monday, Energy Undersecretary Gerardo D. Erquiza Jr. disclosed that two years ago, the Russian government already proposed a contract, wherein it will deposit crude to the Philippine government. 

However, he said the plan did not push through since the government did not have any allocated funds for it.  

“This will go through government-to-government procurement, which needs an available budget,” Erquiza said.  

He also said the government lacked the capacity to distribute the purchased Russian oil since all of the local pump stations are privately owned. 

“Under the Oil Deregulation Law, the [oil] industry is managed by the [private] industry…the government cannot tell them where they should buy [their supplies],” Erquiza said.  

“And assuming the government made the purchase, it has no mechanism to distribute. The previous oil company, which the government owned, Petron, is now with the private sector. So it will not be distributed to those in need, especially with the retail,” he added. 

The energy official said the government could also run the risk of being called out by its western allies, including the United States (US) and countries in Europe for transacting with Russia. 

The US together with the European Union imposed several economic sanctions on Russia for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

Last week, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov met with president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. to reiterate that the Russian government is ready to cooperate with the government to help the country’s fuel needs.

Image credits: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

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