The country’s major oil companies welcomed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing review of the technical and safety policies governing Technology-Solution Retail Outlets (TSROs).
The Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP) noted that several issues associated with TSRO’s operations particularly in terms of permitting, facility standards, health and safety, and tax compliance in reference to DOE’s DC 2017-11-0011 should be reviewed for violations.
The group is composed of Chevron Philippines Inc., Isla LPG Corporation, Petron Corporation, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, PTT Philippines Corporation, and Total Philippines Corporation.
A TSRO is defined by the DOE as a type of retail outlet resulting from emerging technologies that addresses the requirements of liquid fuels in areas currently served by the illegal “bote-bote” trade.
“We thank the DOE for heeding our call to look at and review existing regulations governing the TSROs given the risks that some of these type of retail outlets, which may be non-compliant to DOE’s rules, pose to the general public. We commit to DOE our full support for its thorough assessment of TSROs operating in the country,” the PIP said.
The group is alarmed by the recent explosion incident in Mindoro, which is an example of how a non-compliant TSRO becomes a danger to the community. “The repercussions from non-compliance to retail rules are a serious matter.”
Last June 6, a TSRO in Calapan, Mindoro exploded while receiving fuel from a tanker. According to news reports, adjacent residential properties and establishments were also severely damaged as a result of the incident.
“We are also concerned that while the objective of allowing TSROs is to provide fuel access to areas otherwise being served by illegal bote-bote, some of these small retail outlets are located in areas where regular service stations are already operating,” PIP noted.
TSROs have been proliferating in the rural areas. More than 150 outlets have been recorded in Oriental Mindoro and MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) as well as Western Visayas (Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo).
The DOE clarified that a TSRO is not exempt from following its safety, technical, and other documentary requirements as well as that of other government units and agencies, such as local government units, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The DOE added that it is strictly implementing Rule IV of DC 2017-11-0011, which requires TSRO operators, dealers, and owners to secure a mandatory Certificate of Compliance before engaging in the retail of liquid fuels.
According to the DOE, it is now in the process of revising the Addendum to Rule IV to ensure the safety of consumers and other stakeholders.
“We look forward to a fruitful engagement with the DOE in light of growing concerns with TSROs. These retail outlets should be equally accountable in ensuring safety, compliance to retail rules, and correct payment of taxes as regular service stations,” PIP said.