ARMM rides on oil trade with Sabah towards Bangsamoro
COTABATO CITY, January 7, 2014 – Gas prices in Central Mindanao have gone up in the past weeks up to P60/liter of premium gasoline. However, help is on the way for consumers in Central Mindanao.
Just last month, the Regional Board of Investments of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-ARMM) registered the investment project of oil importing and trading firm, Iron Blaze Petroleum, Inc., (Iron Blaze) in a planned 9 million liter capacity oil depot and storage facility in Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao, one of two component provinces of ARMM located in Central Mindanao.
The oil depot project is worth at least P90 million to be built in a phased and gradual manner in the coming years.
Polloc Port is the premier port of entry and gateway of the ARMM and is currently in the process of being converted into a functional Free Port after Barangay Polloc was declared in 2010 by the ARMM regional governor as a Special Economic Zone, with Polloc Port serving as its Free Port.
This was done according to the mandate of the Regional Economic Zone Authority law passed by the ARMM regional legislative assembly in 2003.
In December last year, Iron Blaze started to test the market for premium gasoline in Central Mindanao by bringing in a small oil tanker boat with 260,000-liter capacity from Sabah, Malaysia.
In January, the same oil tanker boat made its second trip to Polloc. The reception of the market was quiet positive as it brought fresh oil supplies to address the high prices of premium gasoline in Central Mindanao. Sadly, the volume of the oil shipment was not enough to actually move the market to lower oil prices in the area.
The next step to bring lower oil prices in Central Mindanao is to increase the volume of shipments of oil in Polloc Port and for that a bigger oil tanker boat is needed.
The maiden voyage and the follow-up trip of Iron Blaze’s boat was a landmark achievement for the economic linkage of ARMM with neighboring countries in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA.
Increasing economic linkage with BIMP-EAGA countries will be the trend as ARMM transforms into the new political entity of ‘Bangsamoro’ as envisioned by the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
As it is, the pioneer investment of Iron Blaze showed the advantages of trade with BIMP-EAGA after it brought readily available cheaper premium gasoline from neighboring Malaysia, which translated into very competitive transport costs for the oil.
The RBOI made sure that the oil depot project of Iron Blaze was legal and above board as it got the endorsement of the national Department of Energy in Manila before registering the Iron Blaze’s project. (Source: RBOI)