Seaoil logo

SEAOIL Philippines, Inc. expects to open three to five fuel retail stations a month this year, maintaining its growth performance since the entry of an Australian partner in late 2017, a company official said.

“We average about three to five a stations a month,” Jose Jaime V. Dela Fuente, Seaoil vice-president for corporate and consumer marketing, told reporters last week.

“Since last year, we ramped up,” he said, citing the capital infusion from Caltex Australia Petroleum Pty Ltd.

In December 2017, the two groups announced the foreign company was acquiring a 20% equity interest in Seaoil.

Mr. Dela Fuente said before the infusion, Seaoil was averaging about one or two new fuel stations a month. He said there was sort of a mutual agreement between the company and Caltex Australia “on the plans to aggressively expand the retail business.”

He declined to give the target number of stations to be opened this year, citing the different processing time dictated by the permitting requirements of local government units. He said the new stations will be distributed all over the country.

Mr. Dela Fuente said although fuel demand last year declined as fuel prices rose because of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, many oil companies continue to expand.

“I think all fuel companies realize that to be able to grab market share you need to expand the number of stations, you need to be present,” he said.

He said putting up a Seaoil retail station would cost between P5 million to P15 million depending on the size and the facilities. Of the total existing stations, about 70% are company-owned while the rest are owned by franchisees.

“We also want to build entrepreneurs,” he said, adding that part of company’s mission is to eventually see a bigger percentage of franchisee-owned retail stations.

Mr. Dela Fuente did not disclose the exact number of retail stations as of end-2018, except to say that it should be around 400.

Late last year, the company opened a new depot in Zamboanga del Norte while expanding its depot in Davao del Sur.

“We measure the potential of the areas,” Mr. Del Fuente said when asked about the decision to build the depots in Mindanao.

In December last year, the Board of Investments (BoI) approved the registration of Seaoil’s four storage-tank oil depot in Davao del Sur. The depot has a total capacity of 36.9 million liters of both gasoline and diesel fuels.

The agency said Seaoil’s P287-million project had qualified for bulk marketing of petroleum products, which is under the Investment Priorities Plan Special Laws list pertaining to Republic Act 8479 or the Downstream Oil Regulation Act of 1994.

The government agency said the expansion project, which started operations in September 2018, provides an additional 36.9 million liters of gasoline and diesel to its existing 41.05 million liters of storage in southern Mindanao. The increase translates to a total capacity of 78.15 million liters of fuel, making it Seaoil’s biggest depot in the country.

Seaoil is the fifth biggest oil company in the Philippines in terms of market share at 4.69% as of 2018, figures from the Department of Energy show. — Victor V. Saulon