Gatchalian wants Senate inquiry on oil and gas sector
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday said he is keen on calling for a Senate inquiry on the effects of the strict quarantine measures brought about by COVID-19 on the country’s oil and gas sectors to determine the measures needed to ensure the country’s energy security.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, said he is concerned that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and parts of the country has affected upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas sectors, resulting in the reduction of transport, industrial and commercial activities and a drastic drop in global oil demand.
The senator noted the Department of Energy (DOE) itself announced that at least 10 percent or 900 gasoline stations out of the 9,003 nationwide have already suspended operations since the ECQ was imposed.
“Since the country is mainly dependent on imported fuel, Congress has to know about the short, medium, and long-term effects and implications of COVID-19 on the oil and gas industry, in particular, the status of oil and gas exploration projects towards energy security,” Gatchalian said in filing Senate Resolution No. 389.
He also noted that the strict mobility restrictions reduced the demand and threatened the viability of small and independent retailers which currently account for 41.7 percent of the domestic market.
Gatchalian said it is imperative that lawmakers understand and are updated on the government’s plans to ensure the country’s energy security.
“Nakasalalay dito ang kapakanan nating lahat, lalo na’t kung walang sapat na enerhiya ay maraming maaantalang industriya na makakaapekto sa maraming trabaho (Everyone’s welfare is at stake here, especially if it means many jobs would be affected if industries do not have access to energy),” he shared.
Gatchalian pointed out the global health crisis has resulted in the postponement of the opening of proposals to develop potential oil and gas sources in the Philippines due to logistical disruptions.
The low demand for oil has also weighed heavily on the decision to hold plans to drill and explore potential oil and gas sources, according to the lawmaker.
Gatchalian said the implementation of the ECQ to stop the spread of COVID-19, likewise, caused the delay of the proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) import projects, which the DOE is expected to finalize within the year.