THE Department of Energy (DoE) is considering appealing a court injunction that blocked a DoE circular requiring oil companies to “unbundle” or disclose information on what goes into the pricing of petroleum products.

“We are currently discussing this with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) but the [DoE] is considering appealing that resolution,” Assistant Secretary Leonido J. Pulido III told reporters Monday during an energy event.

“A preliminary injunction order is essentially what we call a pending relief, so it runs during the pendency of the case,” he said.

While the preliminary injunction remains, the DoE cannot impose its circular until either it receives relief from an appellate court or a decision is reached, he said.

He was referring to Department Circular No. DC2019-005-008.

The writ of preliminary injunction was issued by Branch 213 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City that sided with petitioner Petron Corp.

Earlier this month, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said his office will continue to look for ways to seek transparency in the pricing of petroleum products. The OSG is his counsel for the case.

“The secretary did tell us that we will defer to the decision of the Office of the Solicitor General. Now in our last meeting the discussion was towards filing an appeal,” Mr. Pulido said.

“Whether or not an appeal is filed, there’s nothing we can do. That order stands. It’s a legitimate order of a regional trial court. The [DoE] is bound to respect that. So the unbundling circular cannot be enforced during the pendency of that case,” he added.

The court decision enjoined Mr. Cusi, who was respondent in the case in his capacity as Energy secretary, from implementing and enforcing the department circular.

It said “if the implementation of the assailed circular is not restrained in the meantime, the petitioner might not be able to comply with its requirements, the first of which is the submission of the weekly reports.”

“At the same time, the petitioner might be placed at risk of losing its trade secrets and incur irreparable injury by disclosing such information to respondent DoE. The petitioner and its officers may be subjected to criminal prosecution and the administrative penalties mentioned in the circular for compliance with the same,” it said.

The circular requires persons or entities involved in the sale of petroleum products such as gasoline, automotive and industrial diesel, kerosene, jet fuel and aviation gas, household and automotive liquefied petroleum gas to file an annual or special report, or both, in such form as the DoE secretary may prescribe.

The circular, which has yet to be implemented, calls for oil companies to first notify the DoE of any change in the prices of petroleum products before imposing any adjustments.

The court said it found “clear and unmistakable right” to the provisional relief sought by the petitioner to prevent the DoE from implementing the circular. — Victor V. Saulon