May 26, 2020 / 5:59 AM / 2 months ago

Philippines' Petron suspends 180,000-bpd Bataan refinery as pandemic bites

MANILA, May 26 (Reuters) - Petron Corp, the Philippines’ largest oil refiner and retailer, said on Tuesday it has temporarily shut down its 180,000-barrel-per-day Bataan refinery on the main island of Luzon, as the coronavirus lockdown pummelled global oil demand.

“Since May 5, Petron’s Bataan Refinery has been on a scheduled turnaround to give way to maintenance activities on major process units,” the company said in a statement after posting its quarterly results.

The plant shutdown will also mitigate the impact of lean fuel demand and poor refining margins, Petron said, without giving details on when the refinery would resume operations.

Petron, a unit of conglomerate San Miguel Corp, provides nearly 30% of the Southeast Asian country’s petroleum requirements, with 30 terminals and more than 2,400 stations nationwide.

“Demand recovery will depend upon the lifting of quarantine measures and ultimately, finding a vaccine to fully restore mobility,” Petron President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Ang said in a statement.

The oil refiner said it has enough fuel inventory to supply domestic market requirements that will be replenished through importation of finished products.

Earlier this month, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had temporarily increased tariffs on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products to fund measures aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the outbreak.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp has also shut down its 110,000-barrel-per-day Tabangao refinery in the Philippines, for one month starting the middle of this month.

Petron suffered a net loss of 4.9 billion pesos ($97 million) in the first quarter, compared with a net income of 1.3 billion pesos in a year-ago period, as fuel prices collapsed due to demand contraction in both local and international markets.

($1 = 50.5600 Philippine pesos)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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