DOE seeking investors for natural gas projects

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MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Energy is pursuing talks with natural gas firms from Canada and Brunei for possible investments in the local natural gas sector, in preparation for the expected exhaustion of the reserves at the Malampaya gas field off Palawan by 2024.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said that Petroleum National Brunei, the national oil company of Brunei Darussalam, was expected to complete by June this year a study on its possible investment in liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in the Phividec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental.

The report on the study, Petilla said, should include Petroleum Brunei’s investment budget for 2014 for the development of the proposed floating, storage regasification unit (FSRU) in Mindanao. The potential investment was an offshoot of the agreement signed in December last year by Petroleum Brunei and state-run Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) to jointly implement investment opportunities in the liquefied natural gas and upstream oil sectors here.

The Macajalar Bay at the Phividec Industrial Complex in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, was deemed as a favorable location for this project due to its marine characteristics, which offered the lowest possible cost terminal option in the area. The area also has the highest concentration of industrial load and has access to transmission facilities, according to the DOE.

Petilla is currently in Vancouver, Canada, to attend a forum on the pricing scheme for LNG.

The energy chief explained that he was interested in knowing the current global gas prices, the trends and how the Philippines would be affected by various developments in the natural gas sector.

“I’m interested because Malampaya will disappear eventually and that’s very near. We have to make a plan for natural gas and I have to look at [global pricing schemes] so we can have a basis here,” he added.

The Philippine government is bent on pursuing the massive use of alternative fuels such as natural gas given the global oil price volatility. The country is vulnerable to these price fluctuations as it imports more than 90 percent of its fuel requirements.

Natural gas has been deemed as among the most feasible alternatives to oil.

The DOE has so far identified 13 “critical” natural gas projects in Luzon, which should all be in place by 2030 to support an aggressive expansion of natural gas use in the power and transport sectors. The Luzon-based projects were considered “strategic infrastructure for receiving, storage, transmission and distribution” of natural gas.

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