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AP Worldstream: Philippine oil firms appeal court order to remove depot from downtown Manila

Published: Mar 13, 2007

The Philippines’ biggest oil companies on Tuesday appealed a Supreme Court order to relocate a sprawling oil depot from the capital, saying it would result in an immediate fuel shortage.

The court last week ordered the Manila city government to implement a zoning ordinance _ enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. _ that reclassified the area where the depot is as commercial rather than industrial.

The area is densely populated and just a couple of kilometers (miles) away from the Malacanang presidential palace, and residents have said they fear it could be a target for terrorists.

The court gave the oil companies six months to shut down operations at the depot.

Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and the Philippine unit of Chevron Corp., however, warned that closing the terminal would result in an immediate fuel crunch as there was no other viable location for the depot, which supplies half the country’s demand.

“The closure of the terminal will affect most industries _ transport, construction, food manufacturing, mining, power generation, air and sea travel. This would consequently have a negative effect on the national economy,” the oil companies said in a statement.

They said the Supreme Court also had not been informed that the oil companies had been given an extra seven years to transfer operations at the depot.

The oil companies said there were no other sites that had the adequate infrastructure and were close enough to metropolitan Manila and nearby areas to ensure a reliable and safe supply of oil products.

The Pandacan terminal also supplies 70 percent of the shipping industry’s fuel requirements, 90 percent of lubricants and 75 percent of nationwide aviation fuel.

The Department of Energy interceded on behalf of the oil companies in 2002, forcing the Manila city government to suspend the implementation of the ordinance.

In exchange, the oil companies removed several storage tanks to reduce the depot’s capacity by 40 percent, and built a buffer zone around it.

But several Manila residents again asked the Supreme Court to enforce the ordinance for the safety of the community.

 

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