Roxas: Four days to go on Petron sale, what's the plan?

Senator Mar Roxas urged the government to consider offers for the purchase of Petron shares while stressing that it has four days left before its "right of first refusal" on the 40% Saudi Aramco stake in Petron Corp. lapses.

"All these offers could have come in earlier had the executive branch been clearer and more transparent on where our strategic interests lie. Until now, we really don't have an energy plan that would indicate how the Petron deal fits in with our oil supply requirements," Roxas pointed out.
He said the government, as represented by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), must be mindful that its decision on the Petron stake comes at a time when there is great uncertainty on the supply and price of oil.

"It has four days left, and the government has to immediately tell the public what it plans to do with its option to buy back the 40% stake of Saudi Aramco in Petron so it can re-sell it to a company that has a stake in the country. Our people deserve to know what the government's plan is and why," he said.

"Whatever the government decides, it must be clear to the public that such decision is in line with the national interest, at this time of skyrocketing oil prices," he added.

"My advocacy is that we ought to get an explanation. This is not just shares of stock from one buyer to another seller. This pertains to a strategically crucial product, oil, and to a company that owns 40% market share in the domestic trade of oil products. So clearly, this is not a simple commercial transaction," he stressed.
The Chairman of the Senate Trade Committee said that the government is not helpless in this planned sale of Saudi Aramco of its Petron stake to Ashmore Ltd. In fact, he said that the "right of first refusal" was put in place so that the government could ensure that the 40% stake in Petron would always be "in friendly hands."

"The point is, the government has yet to explain what it plans to do with this option. They may have very good reasons not to exercise this option, but to date we don't know what these are. And if these 'good reasons' don't exist, we ought to instead exercise this right so we can place this key asset in friendly hands," he said.

"I advocate that the government exercise this right on the 40% Petron shares and sell it to another 'strategic investor,' but it does not mean that the government will have to put money out. As reported, officials have admitted that PNOC can assign its first refusal option to another interested party," he added.
By "friendly hands," Roxas was referring to companies that have access to crude oil—such as those from Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and other oil-producing countries—or who otherwise have petroleum operations. "Friendly hands" could also include Filipino firms, or those which have long-term interest in the Philippines.

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