Fernando Martinez, an economics graduate of the state-owned Polytechnic University of the Philippines who has played a crucial role in changing the downstream oil industry in the country, now aims to transform the liquefied petroleum gas business as well.
The 58-year-old former government employee established Eastern Petroleum Corp. as an offshoot of the Oil Deregulation Law of 1998. He was the founding chairman of the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association, which challenged the dominance of the so-called Big 3 in the oil industry.
Always a risk taker, Martinez recently took a leap of faith by expanding Eastern Petroleum’s business to include liquefied petroleum gas or cooking gas. His company launched an ambitious P3-billion LPG business that is expected to change the industry once more.
Eastern Petroleum allocated P3 billion for the rollout of the country’s first composite liquefied petroleum gas cylinder, which is said to be a lot safer than the regular steel cylinders.
“EC [Eastern Composite] Gas was established to give consumers a higher standard of safety for its LPG cylinders,” Martinez says. “There is no reason why LPG-related accidents should happen every year.”
Martinez says EC Gas is the next-generation LPG cylinder technology manufactured by Hexagon Ragasco, the biggest manufacturer of composite cylinders.
The cylinder body is made of durable fiber glass and resin, which makes it translucent with the glass level visible at all times. It is non-explosive even when exposed to excessive pressure or open flame and 50-percent lighter than the traditional LPG tank.
The EC Gas tank comes with an auto shut-off feature which stops leaks in case of rupture or disconnection.
Records from the Bureau of Fire Protection show that traditional steel LPG have triggered up to 100 fires and explosion incidents nationwide.
“The challenge is how to make EC Gas available for every household at the shortest possible time since it involves your own safety and your loved ones,” he says.
A mother and her son show how safe the EC Gas is.
Martinez says homeowners should not ignore this statistics and should start searching for an alternative to the traditional steel LPG tanks for their safety.
“Translucent, lightweight and low-maintenance composite LPG cyclinders are measurable, non-corrosive and explosion-proof alternatives. It is a true symbol of safety in the Filipino home,” he says.
Martinez expects EC Gas to be a game changer in the Philippine LPG industry. He says the replacement of every one million traditional steel LPG tanks will need 500 EC Gas distributors and outlets who will be assured of financial returns.
Martinez says an entry-level franchise for EG Gas costs P420,000 where the dealer should have exclusivity to about 5,000 households in its area.
“We are looking for advocates of safety so that 100 LPG fires will be substantially reduced, become part of our network of fire busters,” he says.
Eastern Petroleum was ranked 452 in sales in the 2011 list of the country’s Top 1000 corporations. It has annual sales of over P3 billion.
Martinez is also chairman and chief executive of three other subsidiaries and affiliates of the Eastern Petroleum Group, including Eastern Renewables Corp., J&M Properties and Construction Corp. and MacKay Eastern Medical Group.
He is also the president of Enerfuse Holdings Inc., which is a newly formed holding company.
Eastern Petroleum staff with EC Gas.
Eastern Renewables focuses on constructing a biomass plant in Agusan del Norte, with a total investment of P2.5 billion.
J&M Properties is the real estate arm of the group while MacKay Eastern Medical Group is involved in the commercialization of advance breast cancer screening technology and other related applications called biofields diagnostic system.
Martinez is also the chairman of the Philippine Tapioca Producers and Processors Association Inc.
He held various positions in government-owned and controlled corporations for 15 years before engaging full-time in private businesses.
His work for the government included a stint at the office of the President of the Philippines as program director of the Presidential Management Staff (1990-1998) and as former general manager of the Food Terminal Inc. (1992-1998).
He served as a director at the Ministry of Human Settlements (1983-1986) where he led the training, development and deployment of the human settlements officers across the nation. He was also the principal author of the Kabisig mobilization plan, a village-based volunteer’s movement which was successfully implemented in more than 10,000 barangays and had more than one million members at one time.
Martinez graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at PUP. He obtained a Master’s degree in Policy and Program Administration from the University of the Philippines and had special trainings on Rural Development and Land Reform at Saemul Undong Institute in Korea and Lincoln Institute in China.
He once served as the president of the Makati-Salcedo Rotary Club.
Martinez was recognized as the Most Outstanding Son of Lopez, Quezon in 1998 and 2005 and was a Centennial Awardee at PUP’s 100th year anniversary in 2007. He was cited as an outstanding alumnus of PUP in Public Administration in 1994 and of the PUP College of Economics in 2000. He served as vice president of the PUP Alumni Association from 1995 to 1999.