Pertamina Raises Gasoline Prices 12% in May [+NYT: GOP Plan Elicits Scorn]
- also: Pertamina raises non-subsidised oil product prices; NYT: Sharp Reaction
to G.O.P. Plan on Gas Rebate [The Senate Republican plan to mail $100 checks
to voters to ease the burden of high gas prices is eliciting more scorn than
gratitude] and Sinopec's Profit Declines 3.6% On Refining Losses
Pertamina raises prices of gasoline 12% in May
JAKARTA, May 1 (Bloomberg): PT Pertamina, Indonesia's state-owned oil
company, raised prices of gasoline and diesel as much as 12 percent in May after
international prices increased.
Prices of Pertamax gasoline with a research octane number 92 sold in Java
rose 9.4 percent to Rp 5,800 rupiah (66 cents US dollar) a liter, the company in
an e-mailed statement yesterday.
The same type of fuel sold in northern part of Sumatra and Kalimantan islands
gained 8.1 percent to Rp 6,000 rupiah a liter, he said. Those sold in
Sulawesi climbed 6.2 percent.
Pertamina boosted the price of research octane number 95 Pertamax Plus for
sales in Java by 13 percent to Rp 6,050 a liter, the statement said. It raises
price of its low-sulfur diesel sold in western part of Java 5.2 percent to Rp
6,100 a liter.
The increase in prices of high-octane gasoline and other fuels for industrial
users may accelerate inflation as it will push up the cost of goods and
services. Consumer prices in Southeast Asia's biggest economy rose 15.7 percent in
March, the CentralBureau of Statistic said in April 3. The bureau will release
April inflation data later on Monday.
The company last week said it raised prices of kerosene, diesel and gasoline
sold to industries by an average 9 percent to reflect prices in the
Pertamina uses Singapore prices, assessed by oil-pricing service Platts, to
calculate retail fuel prices.
Pertamina raises non-subsidised oil product prices
JAKARTA, May 1 (Reuters) - Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina has
raised retail prices of non-subsidised oil products from Monday
because of higher global crude prices, a company official said.
Pertamina sells most products in the retail market at highly
subsidised rates, but two types of high octane gasoline, "Pertamax"
and "Pertamax Plus", are not subsidised by the government.
Some oil products used by industry are also not subsidised by the
government, unlike retail rates for fuel used by general consumers.
Mochamad Harun, a Pertamina spokesman, said the firm had raised the
price of Pertamax 9.43 percent to 5,800 rupiah ($0.66) a litre from
5,300 rupiah, and Pertamax Plus prices by 12 percent to 6,050 rupiah
($0.69) a litre from 5,400 rupiah on Java island.
He said Pertamina had also raised diesel oil prices for industry 7.47
percent to 5,763.01 rupiah ($0.66) a litre from 5,362.31 rupiah while
kerosene prices were up to 5,664.54 rupiah per litre from 5,507.06
"Pertamina increased the price because prices in the world market are
higher. Pertamina will follow the world price development to calculate
prices for industry and also for high octane gasoline retail," Harun
Although the government increased fuel prices sharply last October to
cut crippling energy subsidies, they are still among the cheapest in
Global oil prices have been hovering around $70 a barrel in recent
weeks, but the government has said it does not plan to increase
domestic oil prices of subsidised products.
Price increases are a sensitive issue in Southeast Asia's largest
economy. In May 1998, a big rise in fuel prices triggered rioting that
helped topple former President Suharto.
Pertamina has said Indonesia will consume around 62 million kilolitres
(390 million barrels) of oil products in 2006, compared with 65
million kl last year.
Indonesia is Asia-Pacific's only OPEC member but was a net importer of
crude throughout the second quarter of 2005, as production at its
ageing oilfields declined at a rate of 5 percent or more annually.
The New York Times
Monday, May 1, 2006
Sharp Reaction to G.O.P. Plan on Gas Rebate
By CARL HULSE and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
WASHINGTON, April 30 -- The Senate Republican plan to mail $100 checks to
voters to ease the burden of high gasoline prices is eliciting more scorn than
gratitude from the very people it was intended to help.
Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail
messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent
effort to pander to voters before the midterm elections in November.
"The conservatives think it is socialist bunk, and the liberals think it is
conservative trickery," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn,
Republican of Texas, pointing out that the criticism was coming from across
the ideological spectrum.
Angry constituents have asked, "Do you think we are prostitutes? Do you think
you can buy us?" said another Republican senator's aide, who was granted
anonymity to openly discuss the feedback because the senator had supported the
Conservative talk radio hosts have been particularly vocal. "What kind of
insult is this?" Rush Limbaugh asked on his radio program on Friday. "Instead of
buying us off and treating us like we're a bunch of whores, just solve the
problem." In commentary on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume called the idea "silly."
The reaction comes as the rising price of gasoline has put the public in a
volatile mood and as polls show that cynicism about Congress is at its highest
level since 1994.
Still, Eric Ueland, chief of staff to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the
Republican leader, whose office played a main role in pulling the proposal
together, said the rebate was an important short-term step in a broader array of
measures that began with last year's energy bill. Constituents "believe
government ought to step up to the plate rather than loll around in the dugout," Mr.
Ueland wrote in an e-mail message on Sunday.
After members of Congress returned from the spring recess, when they got an
earful about gas prices above $3 a gallon, they raced to propose solutions that
might take effect before the elections. Democrats were pushing for a 60-day
suspension of the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon, and the Senate
Republican leadership settled on the rebate.
Those leaders and Finance Committee aides said many Republicans opposed the
Democratic plan because they feared that oil companies, which pay the gas tax,
would not pass savings on to the public, or that the laws of supply and demand
would push the price up again.
There was also the probable opposition of House Republicans, who have been
reluctant to jeopardize the flow of the gas tax revenue to the highway trust
fund that underwrites road and bridge projects.
"Our folks thought it might amount to nothing for consumers," said one aide
who was granted anonymity to discuss internal leadership deliberations.
Under the proposal, $100 checks would be sent late this summer to an
estimated 100 million taxpayers, regardless of car ownership. Single taxpayers with
adjusted gross incomes above about $146,000 would be ineligible for the checks,
as would couples earning more than about $219,000. The $100 figure was
determined by Mr. Frist's office, which calculated that the average driver would pay
about $11 per month in federal gas taxes over nine months.
The rebate was the signature element of a broader Senate Republican
leadership plan announced Thursday that included new incentives for the oil industry to
increase its refining capacity and for consumers to buy hybrid cars. It would
open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to drilling and would
impose an accounting change forcing oil companies to pay higher taxes on fuel sold
The proposal would also give the executive branch new authority to set fuel
standards for cars, an idea that will get a hearing in the House this week.
David Winston, a Republican pollster who advises the Senate Republican
leadership, called the rebate an intuitive way to show voters that Republicans were
on their side. "It is like putting the American family budget ahead of oil
company profits," Mr. Winston said. "How do you help the American families out?
Well, give them some money."
But disapproval started flowing in almost as soon as the idea surfaced, said
aides in several Republican offices. One senior aide to a Southern lawmaker
said the calls were surprisingly harsh. Some complained that the rebate would
amount to only two fill-ups at the gas station.
Even though some voters have been outspoken in their opposition to the $100
rebate, Democrats still want credit for being the first to think of putting
money back in taxpayers' pockets. A few days before the Republicans went public
with their plan, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, proposed a $500
rebate plan, a figure that she said was more commensurate with how much the
higher gas prices will cost Americans this year.
Ms. Stabenow also criticized Republicans for linking the rebate to oil
drilling in the arctic refuge.
Republicans know that drilling in the refuge "is highly controversial and not
going to happen," Ms. Stabenow said. "I question their sincerity in putting
When the Republican program might reach the Senate floor is still uncertain.
Mr. Frist had suggested that he might try to attach the plan to the emergency
spending bill the Senate is debating, but aides said that was now less likely
and that Republicans might ultimately bring their proposal forward on its own.
On television news programs on Sunday, several Republicans emphasized the
need for long-term solutions and played down the rebates. "I don't think much
about the $100 rebate," Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said on
"Late Edition" on CNN. "We're going to have to produce more domestic oil,
natural gas. We're going to have to build pipelines, liquefied natural gas plants."
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, struck a similar note on the
CBS program "Face the Nation." "I don't think it's a real answer," she said.
"It's a temporary Band-Aid. I don't think that it's, again, the long-range
But in his e-mail message, Mr. Ueland, the chief of staff to Senator Frist,
dismissed the accusations of pandering as the inevitable price of taking any
action. "It's the way of the world to dog Washington when members respond to
constituent concerns, but to be responsive is part of how the system is designed."
The Wall Street Journal
May 1, 2006
Sinopec's Profit Declines 3.6% On Refining Losses
SHANGHAI -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, said its
first-quarter net profit fell 3.6% from the year-earlier period, as oil-price rises were
unable to offset losses in its refining operation.
Sinopec's net profit fell to 9.29 billion yuan ($1.16 billion) from 9.64
billion yuan, according to international accounting standards. Revenue rose 30% to
227.2 billion yuan from 174.13 billion yuan, the company reported Friday.
Sinopec is Asia's largest refiner by capacity and China's second-largest oil
producer by capacity after PetroChina Co. It is listed in New York, Hong Kong
Sinopec reported a first-quarter operating loss in its refining segment of
7.88 billion yuan. It didn't provide a comparison figure.
The company said its refining operation may have a larger loss in the second
quarter if crude-oil prices remain high.
"If oil-product prices can't be brought closer to international levels, and
crude-oil prices remain around $70 per barrel, the operational loss in our
refinery sector will widen in the second quarter," Zhang Jiaren, Sinopec's chief
financial officer, said in a telephone conference.
China has kept the domestic selling price of petrochemical products low to
shield its huge farming population from inflationary pressures brought about by
the soaring international price of oil. Mr. Zhang said he hopes the government
will step up reforms in the oil-product pricing system.
The market had expected Beijing to launch downstream oil-product-pricing
changes in April, linking domestic retail prices of oil products with production
costs, but no announcement has been made. The market now expects changes to be
launched later this year.
China raised domestic oil-product prices in late March. The domestic factory
price of gasoline sold by refineries to retailers rose 6.8% to 4,700 yuan per
metric ton, while diesel prices rose 5.2% to 4,070 yuan per metric ton.
Sinopec said it had operating profit in its upstream exploration and
production segment of 16.62 billion yuan, while operating profit in its chemicals
segment was 3.14 billion yuan. Year-earlier figures weren't provided. --Zheng Jin