Court stops DOE from unbundling fuel prices

MANILA, Philippines – A lower court stopped the Department of Energy (DOE) from requiring oil companies to unbundle fuel prices.

The decision of Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 213 penned by Judge Carlos Valenzuela on Monday, August 5, granted Petron Corporation's application for a writ of preliminary injunction, preventing the DOE from compelling oil companies to detail how price adjustments are computed.

Oil companies oppose unbundling because competitors may get access to confidential information. But the DOE had said that the data companies would submit will only be for the purposes of the agency and will not be made public.

"The petitioner might be placed at risk of losing its trade secrets and incur irreparable injury by disclosing such information to DOE," the court decision read.

In a text message, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said "the DOE will abide by the court."

The DOE wants the following details from oil companies on a weekly basis:

The court said companies like Petron might not be able to comply with such requirements, which means they would be subject to penalties.

The Philippine Institute of Petroleum and Pilipinas Shell filed similar cases against the DOE over the matter.

The DOE wants to push through with unbundling so that the government can better crack down on reported incidents of anticompetitive behavior. –