PETRON CORP. is looking at building additional components in its 180,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in Bataan in a bid to shift to cleaner technology and speed up the transfer of goods, according to a project description report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The firm is proposing to build a refinery solid fuel fired boiler phase 3 (RSFBB-3), a 500-meter fuel transfer line connecting to the SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corp. (SLHBTC) and six support facilities, which are collectively known as the “Petron Refinery Special Projects.”

In its project description, Petron said that the special projects aim to help the refinery shift to cleaner technology by replacing its fuel oil-fired boilers, and “alleviate the pier and tank utilization” by building new transfer facilities.

The firm, however, clarified that the installation of the new components will not increase its production capacity.

The projects will be located at Brgy. Alangan in Limay. “The facilities (RSFFB-3 and transfer line) will be separately located in areas within the boundaries of Petron Bataan Refinery, Panasia (Energy, Inc.) and SLHBTC,” Petron said.

On Friday, the DENR said that it would hold a public scoping activity for Petron’s special projects on April 5 via Microsoft Teams video conferencing. The environment department said that those who wish to participate are encouraged to attend the event and provide their inputs during the review period.

A public scoping is part of the department’s environment impact assessment process where the project proponent is given the chance to provide an overview of the planned project, and gather issues and concerns, among others.

Two months ago, Petron said that it was infusing close to P3 billion to improve its refinery operations in Bataan, after registering in the province’s freeport area. The approval of the firm’s application by the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan allowed its refinery to avail of tax perks.

The company previously announced that the refinery would push forward with the economic shutdown of operations in 2021. Earlier, Petron President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang announced the temporary shutdown of refinery operations to “reduce losses due to weak margins.”

Petron reported a net loss of P11.4 billion last year, swinging from a net income of P2.3 billion a year earlier as sales dropped due to the pandemic. For the full-year 2020, the firm’s consolidated sales volume slid 27% to 78.6 million barrels compared to its 2019 value.

Shares of Petron in the local bourse inched down 1.28% or four centavos to finish at P3.09 on Monday. — Angelica Y. Yang