Oil company appeals Philippines import seizure

The Philippines won’t seize oil imports
belonging to Royal Dutch Shell Plc until the nation’s high court issues a final
ruling, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

“Shell brought the case to the
Supreme Court,” Ermita told reporters today in Malolos, Bulacan north of Manila. “We will observe
status quo.”

The nation’s tax court Tuesday
voted 2-to-1 denying Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.’s petition to block the
Bureau of Customs from confiscating 7.3 billion pesos ($157 million) of oil to
pay alleged import tax arrears. Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales on
Tuesday said the agency can start seizing Shell shipments today.

The dispute stems from imports of
so-called catalytic- cracked gasoline from 2004 to 2009, which Shell says were
tariff-free raw materials and Customs says were taxable finished oil products.
Shell, which supplies 28 percent of the country’s fuel, has warned it may shut
its refinery, one of only two in the Philippines, and close its 959
retail stations nationwide.

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