PETRON CORP. posted P14.2 billion in total net loss in the first six months of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic brought down the demand for fuel products, leading to poor refining margins and collapse in prices.

In the first half of last year, the country’s largest oil refining and marketing company posted a net income of P2.6 billion.

The listed fuel retailer told the stock exchange on Tuesday that its consolidated revenues plunged by a fourth to P152.4 billion with total sales volume down 19% to 41.9 million barrels.

Its Philippine business recorded a 28% decline in sales volume, noting low take-up of its aviation and retail products during the lockdown months.

The company continues to improve its productivity and cut down expenses to cope with the pandemic’s impact, said Petron President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang.

“At the same time, we have initiated cash preservation initiatives and prudently manage our capex (capital expenditure),” he added.

After losing P15 billion from its inventory in the first half, the oil firm sees “modest” inventory gains of about P3.5 billion in the second half of the year as prices start to pick up, according to Mr. Ang.

Petron closed its Bataan Refinery in May for maintenance activities on the plant’s major process units, expecting that it will cushion the impact of falling demand and low refining margins.

“As the economy slowly reopens, we will need to find new ways to adapt to these new and unprecedented economic realities and remain resilient,” he said.

Shares in Petron grew by 1.32% to close at P3.06 each on Tuesday. — Adam J. Ang