PH factory output fell 43.6% in February

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The temporary closure of Petron Corp.’s refinery since February shrank the total output of the country’s factories during the period by 43.6 percent year-on-year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday.

The PSA’s monthly integrated survey of selected industries (Missi) for February showed that the volume of production index (VoPI)—a proxy for factory output—was pulled down mainly by the 85.4-percent drop in the production of petroleum coke and refined oil products.

To recall, Petron again temporarily suspended operations at its crude oil refinery in Limay, Bataan province due to low refining margins amid the pandemic-induced recession.

The PSA said 18 other manufacturing sectors also posted year-on-year drop in production volumes last February.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa told the Inquirer that the decline in February’s VoPI was nonetheless exceeded by the 82.2-percent drop in factory output last August, based on updated Missi data with the new base year of 2018.

Citing a report of the PSA’s technical team, Mapa said the faster VoPI slide in August last year was also due to petroleum.

“The shutdown of two big players—Petron and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.—during the month [of August 2020] caused the big drop of the overall VoPI,” Mapa said.

In the case of Shell, it already permanently shuttered its Batangas province refinery.

Alongside the fall in output volumes, the value of production index also shrank by 46.5 percent in February, the biggest year-on-year contraction in five months. —BEN O. DE VERA


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