Just before 2020 ended, Petron Corporation announced the temporary shutdown of their Bataan refinery this January 2021. The company cited minimizing losses and an “uneven playing field between importers and refiners” as reasons for the temporary stop in operations. Petron, however, didn't say until when the stoppage will occur. As a result, some began to speculate about the refinery's possible permanent closure in the future.

Now, it seems the Petron Bataan Refinery complex, the country's last petroleum refining facility, has been saved from any permanent closure. It also saved the livelihood of the refinery's thousands of employees. The refinery has been approved as a registered enterprise of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB). Accreditation with the Bataan Freeport benefits Petron from tax perks, which will provide the company with a more level playing field with fuel importers.

As part of AFAB, Petron said it will undertake several capital investments over the next five years to improve “the efficiency of the integrated operation of its refinery”. The additional investment will also create more jobs for the resident of Limay and nearby municipalities in Bataan.

Despite the approval of its AFAB application, Petron said it will proceed with the temporary shutdown of its Bataan refinery. The company says that the refining business remains challenging both locally and abroad due to market conditions brought about by the pandemic. As previously announced, however, there will be no supply disruption.

With Petron's Bataan refinery now a registered enterprise of AFAB and more investments committed in the years to come, we can be sure that the country's last refinery is here to stay. The refinery is capable of producing 180,000 barrels per day only resumed operations in October last year following the long pandemic lockdown.