By Lenie Lectura - August 6, 2017
A top official of First Gen Corp. said over the weekend the Lopez-led firm is interested to discuss anew its LNG (liquefied natural gas) plans with the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC).
“We would be interested,” First Gen President Francis Giles Puno said. He was asked to comment on Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi’s pronouncement that the PNOC would be open to unsolicited proposals.
The PNOC received government-to-government proposals from China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. The state firm was supposed to announce its preferred partner last month. However, a highly placed source said, “there was no acceptable proposal” from these six countries.
Cusi said last week that the plan to build the country’s first LNG facility is now open to unsolicited proposals. “Yes, so we can get what is really beneficial for the country,” Cusi said when asked if the government was now considering this approach.
Puno said there is no discussion with the PNOC on this new development. Groundbreaking for the LNG project, possibly in Batangas, was targeted to happen early next year, with project completion being eyed within the six-year term of President Duterte. “We will try to make it happen within the target schedule. The important thing is we do it properly to be sure that it can be completed,” he added.
First Gen has also been vocal in its plans to build an LNG facility to be located near its other gas plants in Batangas City. “We are excited. We will continue to pursue it,” Puno said.
Cusi said the government is aiming to turn the Philippines into a hub for LNG, amid a depletion of natural gas from the Malampaya gas field in Palawan in less than a decade.
“Two objectives: One, is for our national energy strategy when the Malampaya is depleted. Two, we want to put the Philippines in the LNG hub for Asia to complement Japan [and] Singapore. We want to take that opportunity for our country’s economic development,” Cusi added.
LNG is natural gas that has been converted into a liquid state for easier storage and transportation. Upon reaching its destination, LNG is regasified so it can be distributed through pipelines as natural gas.
“The Philippines already failed in aviation becoming a hub despite our geographical advantage and location, and in maritime. So this would probably [be] an opportunity. It’s a dream,” Cusi said earlier.