Orka Energy of Iceland has bought into the $150-million geothermal power project of Biliran Geothermal Inc. in Eastern Visayas, according to Energy Undersecretary Jose M. Layug Jr.
In a briefing on Monday, Layug said Orka Energy acquired the stakes formerly held by Reykjavik Energy Invest and Geysir Green Energy, both of Iceland, in the Biliran project.
It is, however, unclear whether Orka acquired the maximum stake of 40 percent, the foreign ownership limit set by the law for energy projects in the country.
The local partner in the project is Filtech Energy Drilling Corp. (Fedco).
According to Layug, Orka Energy is planning to drill two to three exploration wells by next year to support the operations of its planned geothermal facility in Biliran, which was estimated to generate about 50 megawatts of power. Should these drillings yield positive results, the parties are expected to start commercial operations.
The project is expected to benefit five electric cooperatives and about 1.9 million residents in Biliran and Leyte islands.
Layug said Orka Energy’s presence in the country would allow Philippine geothermal developers to learn from the technological advancements made by the Icelandic firm, particularly in the area of “district heating.”
Orka Energy specializes in geothermal resource development and operation. Building on Iceland’s long history in geothermal development and use, the company focuses on exploration and development of steam fields, and production of electricity from geothermal energy.
Although based in Iceland, “major components” of its operations are in Asia, according to the company’s website.
The country’s installed geothermal capacity presently stands at 1,966 MW, making it the second-largest geothermal producer in the world.