By: Daxim L. Lucas - 02:02 AM December 19, 2016
The Department of Energy plans to clamp down on illegal retailers of petroleum products especially those that sell fuels using nonstandard containers like bottles, barrels, drums or portable containers—a move meant to ensure the safety of the consuming public.
In a proposed circular, the DOE will also mandate all retail establishments to secure a certificate of compliance from the department’s Oil Industry Management Bureau, without which any sale of petroleum products by the business would be considered “illegal trading” subject to stiff penalties and fines.
“The continued use of unsafe and substandard methods of retailing liquid fuels exposes the consuming public to fire, danger, health and environmental risks,” said the proposed DOE circular, which is being circulated among stakeholders for comments until Dec. 21, 2016.
These unauthorized retailing methods also deny the public “the proper quantity and quality of fuels they purchase” and “deprives legitimate retail outlets of additional sales volume” while depriving the government of revenues from licensing fees, local business taxes and pump calibration charges, among others,” the department added.
Most importantly, these industry malpractices also “encourages the marketing of liquid fuels sourced from illegal activities such as smuggling, pilferage, theft and the like,” DOE said.
Once promulgated, the new circular will mandate all retail outlets to store liquid fuels in underground tanks, to be dispensed only via fixed and permanent dispensing pumps, all contained in a minimum lot area of 100 square meters.
“Liquid fuels shall not be dispensed from aboveground tanks, portable tanks, road tankers or vehicles, drums, barrels, bottles or ‘bote-bote’, or similar containers into the fuel tanks of motor vehicles,” the proposed circular read.
The quality and quantity of the dispensed fuels will also be scrutinized by the government.
Compliance with the new rules will be be monitored by the OIMB and its field offices through unannounced inspections and random testing of pumps as well as sample testing of fuel products either on site or at the DOE’s laboratory.
Violations will include conducting business without a certificate of compliance, failure to post licenses and permits on the businesses’ premises, failure to pay fees or fines, or the posting of inaccurate octane rating numbers for fuels and quality labels, among others.
First-time offenders may be fined a penalty of P250,000 per violation while a succeeding offense will merit another P250,000 fine and the revocation of government permits and licenses.