As one of only two oil refineries in the country, the Tabangao Refinery was an icon for Shell’s thriving operations and lasting legacy in the Philippines.

For close to 60 years, the Tabangao Refinery was home to Pilipinas Shell’s leading innovators, such as engineers, technicians, and specialists. It remains a good neighbor and a reliable social and livelihood partner to various fenceline communities in Tabangao, Batangas.

Due to the drastic decline in regional refining margins, we had to make the tough yet necessary decision to close down our refinery operations. As Pilipinas Shell gears up to transform the Tabangao Refinery into a world-class import terminal, let us take a look back at how the iconic oil refinery changed lives and made the future.

The Legacy of the Tabangao Refinery

The Tabangao Refinery began its commercial operations in 1962, with an initial nameplate capacity of 30,000 barrels per day (bpd). Modernization and expansion activities between 1993 and 1995 further increased the oil refinery’s nameplate capacity to 110,000 bpd. Before its conversion, the Tabangao Refinery was one of only two oil refineries in the Philippines.

With the transformation of the oil refinery, Pilipinas Shell will maintain its presence in Tabangao, Batangas, thereby preserving its support to its different stakeholders in the area. The Tabangao Refinery’s operations nurtured around a thousand employees during its prime, prioritizing the hiring of residents from Batangas. The communities in the neighbourhood also benefited from the various corporate social responsibility programmes of the Company.

Inspiring Change Where We Are

Pilipinas Shell’s presence in Tabangao, Batangas has helped uplift the lives of residents in our host and neighboring communities. For one, we prioritize the employment of locals, especially those who are highly skilled in refinery and petrochemical operations. The Refinery opened up a lot of employment opportunities for these skilled workers, and even helped scale up their skills for future employment.

Even contractors who worked at the Refinery also had a leg up in the industry after working with Pilipinas Shell. Jorge C. Catilo, now the Barangay Chairman of Barangay Libjo, Batangas City, once worked as a forklift operator

in the Refinery; this experience helped him secure work opportunities abroad before assuming his post as Barangay Chairman in 2015.

We also help the communities in the neighbourhood through the programmes offered by the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. which focus on livelihood, education, health and safety, environment, and energy access. Our programmes have
five beneficiary barangays, namely: Tabangao, Ambulong, Libjo, San Isidro, and Malitam. In 2020, PSFI programmes in Batangas reached almost 61,000 beneficiaries.

Through Shell LiveWIRE, our dedicated livelihood development programme, we also support the SIBBAP-MPC, a women-led social enterprise based in Barangay Ambulong. SIBBAP-MPC helps women in their local community generate income by offering products and services like garment production, a community bakery and consumer store, and even a learning center.

We also have other indirect investments which greatly benefitted neighbouring communities. In 2019, we secured and awarded land titles for 82 families which relocated to Barangay Malitam, helping settle their concerns regarding land ownership. We also contributed significant infrastructure projects that boosted mobility and access to market. For one, the bridge that connects Barangays Libjo and San Isidro was a result of the Shell Tabangao Asset Renewal (STAR) project, which was completed in 1994.

The collective hard work, sacrifices, and contributions of our employees over the years have made the Tabangao Refinery the beacon of excellence that it is today. With the transformation of the oil refinery, Pilipinas Shell worked hard to ensure that the employees directly impacted by this transition are well taken care of and assured of their future prospects.


Image of Bryan Lucas

I want the Tabangao Refinery to be remembered as this place where a lot of people came together and made things happen. There are not enough words to truly capture the legacy of the Tabangao Refinery

Bryan Lucas

At its peak, the Tabangao Refinery was home to almost a thousand employees with different specializations— from engineers and other technicians, to procurement and other support services.

When one takes on a job at the Refinery, it really is a commitment as it requires one to move to the Company’s residential compound in Tabangao, Batangas.

Bryan Lucas, an Instruments Electrical Engineering Team Manager at the Refinery, relocated from his home in Quezon City when he first joined the Company in 2007. He joined the Refinery’s maintenance team just as he was about to finish his Master’s thesis in electrical engineering.

“Fortunately, the Company had some accommodations for their staff. I was very lucky to have lived here in the residential compound, that made things a lot easier for me,” recalls Lucas.

Today, Lucas is a driving force in Pilipinas Shell’s green energy projects, spearheading projects pushing for commercially successful renewable energy.


Joan Kho, a Reliability Manager at the Refinery, started out as an Instrument Engineer back in 1992. His eldest son, John Anthony, now a Process, Automation, Control and Optimisation (PACO) Engineer at Shell Philippines Exploration, B.V. (SPEX), practically grew up in the residential compound just beside the Refinery.

“Seeing my dad’s work influenced me to take up a course in Engineering,” recalls John Anthony.

Despite the challenges of relocating, Joan knew that Pilipinas Shell was the company he wanted to work for.

“When I was young, I really saw that Shell’s values fit very well with my own personal values,” recalls Joan. “What really hooked me was the culture, particularly the culture of care, respect, and safety. If I work for a company that cares for me and my safety, I will be safe, and it will always be good for my family.”

“I think the Refinery’s biggest legacy is how it provided employment and livelihood in this area, and I believe the communities here will continue to thrive and get better opportunities for themselves thanks to Pilipinas Shell’s influence.”

Joan Kho

“The Tabangao Refinery taught me that you don’t know everything, and that you have to learn, unlearn, and re-learn if that is what it takes. To me, that is really important because I can take that lesson wherever I go, be it within or outside of Pilipinas Shell.”

Nikko Calledo

Nikko Calledo, a Contract Specialist at the Refinery, started out as a graduate hire who also had to relocate to Batangas from his home in Manila. “However, seeing the other graduate hires there and hearing their stories about the Refinery made me feel more comfortable not just with the move, but also with my role,” recalls Calledo.

For Refinery employees, especially those who have been there for decades now, news of the facility’s transformation hit them hard, at first. However, Pilipinas Shell continues
to provide the same level of care and thoughtfulness as it helps its employees with the transition.

“That’s the thing I admire with Pilipinas Shell—the courage of its leaders to be transparent and authentic. They did not postpone the discomfort at a later time and allowed people to grab opportunities and come to terms with reality,” explains Lucas.

For Calledo, while he understood the factors behind this decision, it was still hard for him to accept the news at first, especially since he did not know what would happen to him afterwards. “It took me a while to understand how it will impact the people and how Pilipinas Shell will ensure that there’s little to no harmful impact to its current employees—that was my struggle internally,” he adds.

The Company gave full support to its employees during this transition. Refinery employees were given until the end of the year to find another job within the Shell companies. Salaries, including the 14th month bonuses, were also paid for. “That’s something that’s truly admirable with Pilipinas Shell—not all companies will provide that kind of support,” adds Lucas.

Today, Lucas is embracing his new role as Operations Lead for Instruments and Functional Safety at Shell Business Operations - Global (SBO-TAO), while Calledo also assumed his new position as Retail Territory Manager at Shell Mobility.

“I was contemplating on the long-term career that I wanted to take, and I’d like to do a marketing role,” shares Calledo. “I’m lucky because my boss supported my career shift to retail. It’s going to be an area managing role where I get to have 30-40 retail stations assigned to me.”

Joan, on the other hand, landed a new role in Shell in Malaysia. “A lot of my colleagues who are engineers were able to get a role within Shell; there were very few people who chose to leave Shell,” he adds.

“I benefited from all the learning sessions on how to make a resume and what to say during the interview; it was all set up by the Company to give employees a fighting chance to be successful in a new role,” Joan explains.

“The talent we have here is prized and, wherever we go, the kind of environment we’ve been in prepares us for all our possible roles later on in our careers. I consider myself one of the lucky ones because, shortly after the announcement was made that the Refinery was being converted to an import terminal, I immediately got my next job within a few days.”

Pilipinas Shell’s culture of innovation was on full display at the Tabangao Refinery. Prior to the conversion, there were many innovations introduced in the Tabangao Refinery that better prepares and positions it as a world-class import facility.

Currently, the Tabangao facility generates its own electricity through an Integrated Energy System (IES) that harnesses solar energy. The Tabangao Refinery is the first oil refinery in the Philippines with an industrial-scale solar farm.

The use of cleaner energies to power the requirements of the Tabangao Refinery is part of Pilipinas Shell’s contribution to the overall climate and energy transition ambition of Royal Dutch Shell, a global effort to tackle climate change as we provide energy to meet the world’s needs.


Shifting our supply-chain strategy from manufacturing to full import-based operations will allow Pilipinas Shell to enhance its cost and supply-chain competitiveness. This will also allow us
to leverage our portfolio of assets and our highly competitive Global Products Trading Network.

As such, the transformation of our refinery operations will not affect Pilipinas Shell’s capability to supply the high-quality fuels it has been known for. Rather, this strategic decision marks our commitment to make the hard and necessary choices in the pursuit of financial resilience and operational excellence in these challenging times.

To fully transform the Tabangao facility into a world-class import terminal, Pilipinas Shell plans to re-invest at least PhP1 billion in the next few years to support its marketing growth aspirations. The Tabangao Import Facility will cater to the fuel needs of Luzon and Northern Visayas, while the North Mindanao Import Facility (NMIF) in Cagayan de Oro will continue to serve the growing energy needs in the Visayas and Mindanao region.

Life at Shell

Continuity and Care in the Time of COVID-19

At the height of the pandemic, Pilipinas Shell managed to further enhance its business resilience by adapting relevant business models to the current environment and emerging customer needs.

Best Energy Corporate Governance

In recognition of Pilipinas Shell’s comprehensive governance code and its strong fit-for-purpose corporate structure that is guided by its core values of honesty, integrity, and respect for people.

Respiratory Care Programme in Covid Times

The respiratory care campaign centers on empowering staff and their dependents, highlighting the importance of being accountable and responsible for one’s actions and behavior to prevent the spread of respiratory illness and to keep oneself healthy amid the pandemic.



Caring for the environment is integral to our business.


We care for the communities just like how we care for our operations.

Health and Safety

We strive to maintain high standards of health and safety as it is our licence to operate.

Employee Empowerment

Our company’s success lies on our empowered people.