Independent think-tank IBON Foundation estimates that as much as P31 per liter of the pump price of oil products may be windfall profits of transnational oil firms. This is based on IBON’s estimate of the real cost of oil at only US$31-US$32 per barrel, consisting of exploration cost, production cost and royalties to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Subtracting this from the May 2008 average Dubai spot price of US$117 per barrel means that the oil firms may have already earned windfall profits of US$86-US$87 per barrel of crude oil. Applying this figure to local pump prices (at 159 liters per barrel and an exchange rate of P43: US$1) and prevailing prices as of June 14 would reveal that for every liter of unleaded gasoline, P26-P31 goes to total windfall profits. For diesel, P23-P27 per liter goes to profits. This means that oil firms’ profits account for 47% to 54% of the retail price. The total windfall figures were obtained by combining profits from crude oil price, applying the US energy department’s data that crude oil accounts for 48% to 58% of the local pump price, and that 12% of the retail price goes to profits (which includes 3% that used to make up oil tariffs). This profiteering only proves that oil prices are artificially bloated at international and local levels because of the dominance of transnational oil firms over the industry, which gives them the upper hand to practice monopoly pricing and speculation. But although the government cannot control the activities of oil firms at the global level, it could minimize the impact of their profiteering and control excessive oil prices by implementing strict regulation of the domestic market.

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