MANILA – Fuel costs are expected to be reduced this week but the reduction depends on how much oil companies have raised prices last week, the Department of Energy said.

“This week our view is oil prices should roll back depending on how much you increase last week. If you increase last week your roll back should be higher. If you did not increase then it should be lesser than those that did the increase,” Energy Secretary Almendras said in a briefing in Malacanang.

Several oil companies which did not follow the oil price increase calculated by the Department of Energy (DOE) will be punished by the DOE-Department of Justice (DOJ) task force, he added.

“The law is clear. If the joint task force feels that there is an abuse then the DOJ task force will file a case in court and subsequently the appropriate action will be followed depending on the law,” he said.

Based on DOE calculations, gasoline prices last week should have only gone up by a maximum of 39 centavos rounded off to 40 centavos but some companies increased costs by as much as 60 centavos, Almendras said.

Meanwhile, diesel prices should have increased by 16 centavos, rounded off to 20 centavos but some companies went as high as 25 centavos, he said.

“People might say it is such a small amount (to pursue a case against oil companies) but this is the fourth and fifth times since we assumed office that we ask the oil companies to explain the discrepancy….Every centavo counts,” he said.

Almendras said the DOE-DOJ [Department of Justice] task force asked oil companies that did not follow the DOE figures to submit an explanation in writing.

The task force meanwhile should still has to decide whether those that roll back prices will still be required to explain.

“The task force has to wait, has to evaluate, has to do the comparatives, has to look at the numbers and then make an opinion based on that opinion will be the decision on how to pursue beyond that point,” he said.

Almendras said oil companies' executives could be put in jail if found guilty in violating the DOE oil price regulations. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)