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Pertamina Raises Gasoline Prices 12% in May [+NYT: GOP Plan Elicits Scorn]

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  • JoyoNews@aol.com
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2006
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      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
      international market.

      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
      rupiah.

      "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
      said.

      Although the government increased fuel prices sharply last October to
      cut crippling energy subsidies, they are still among the cheapest in
      the world.

      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
      plan.

      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
      from stockpiles.

      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
      this forward."

      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
      solution."

      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
      and Shanghai.

      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
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