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Philippines cites urgency to cut dependency on foreign oil

The Philippine presidential palace Wednesday said it is imperative to cut the Philippine dependency on oil to lessen impacts of oil price hikes on citizen's lives.

"The series of oil price increases during the past months makesit imperative to draw up long-term solutions in reducing our dependency on oil, and to exploit and enhance alternative or renewable sources of energy," Philippine Press Secretary and Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

"In the meantime, the government is taking up all the necessary and feasible measures to lessen the impact of oil price hikes on the lives of average Filipinos, especially in tempering transport fares and food prices," he added.

The Philippines, along with some other Asian countries, such asIndia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand among others, would be the worst hit by an oil price spike, according to a recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

For the Philippines, oil price hike would cause a 1.9-percentage fall for gross domestic product growth and a 1.4-percentage rise in inflation, the ADB said.

The Philippine Energy Department has previously unveiled plans to double its capacity for renewable energy from the present levelof 4,500 megawatts to 9,000 megawatts by 2013, through wider use of geothermal energy, wind power, solar cells, and biomass.

The government has also launched energy efficiency and conservation program to bring about a 12-percent reduction in oil importation equivalent to a yearly savings of 874 million US dollars in fuel expenditures.

The program includes a "carless day campaign", no new government vehicles and strict administration of the use of government vehicles among others.

Nearly all of its oil requirements are imported, mostly from the Middle East, in the Philippines, which imports more than 330,000 barrels of oil per day.

Crude oil topped 50 US dollars per barrel during Asian trading Tuesday, pushing past the psychological milestone for the first time then surging further to new record levels as uncertainties over Nigerian output heightened worries of a severe supply disruption. Analysts see further rise in international crude prices.

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