FUEL PRICES could start retreating starting next week after the Dubai benchmark for crude oil sold to Asia receded from its highs, Energy Secretary Alfredo G. Cusi said.

“The good news now is that in the past two trading days of oil… Dubai Crude (averaged) $104.79 per barrel,” Mr. Cusi said. “Last week it reached an average of $122.61.”

He was speaking at a meeting of the Cabinet with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, which was taped and released to the public early on Wednesday.

“If this trend continues and will reach ($100-$105), we may experience a drop in domestic fuel prices next week; at least P5 per liter for gasoline and at least P12 per liter for diesel,” he added.

Mr. Cusi said prices have been rising sharply since the start of the year due to fears over global supply, particularly since February with sanctions hanging over Russia threatening to take its oil and gas off the market. However, relief may be in sight if the US succeeds in bringing oil from sanctioned states like Venezuela or Iran back onstream, he added. The potential boost to global supply is 1 million barrels daily; if Russia and Ukraine conclude a ceasefire deal, the prospect of which caused crude benchmarks to drop this week, then fuel prices may continue to track lower.

Separately, Mr. Cusi added that power generation companies have appealed to loosen the 30-day minimum inventory requirement for their fuel stocks as coal prices are now double, and complying with the requirement will place greater demands on their capital.

However, the department is not open to easing the minimum inventory rule.

“I don’t want to risk running out of supply in case we will have a problem in the shipments,” he said in a text message.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has said that the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on power rates will be felt in May as natural gas prices, which are affected by world crude oil prices, adjust quarterly for contract users like power plants.

Fuel prices increased for an eleventh consecutive week on Tuesday, rising P7.10 per liter for gasoline; P13.15 for diesel; and P10.50 for kerosene. This was the biggest price increase since the start of the year. 

Since the start of the year gasoline, diesel, and kerosene prices per liter have risen by P20.35, P30.65 and P24.90, respectively. — Marielle C. Lucenio