UP TO 12 foreign entities have expressed interest to acquire the unused natural gas from Malampaya owned by the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), with the Energy department’s commercial arm moving to monetize its “banked” gas to fund a big-ticket project.
“This is our first project, we don’t want to just go without proper studies,” Reuben S. Lista, PNOC president and chief executive officer, told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s budget presentation at the Senate on Thursday.
“That’s why we are involving consultants. We are still entertaining new proponents,” he said, adding that PNOC had received 67 proponents as of its last count.
He said the number of interested parties could still increase as other entities have sought to set meetings with PNOC.
Mr. Lista said there is a need to monetize PNOC’s banked gas to avoid borrowing the funds to be used for its plan to build an integrated liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub. He said the National Economic and Development Authority may not approve any move to secure a loan at $2 billion, the estimated cost of the hub.
“That is the direction we are trying to adopt — to look for a partner willing to monetize our banked gas,” he said, adding that the interested buyers that approached PNOC with a proposal are all foreign entities.
PNOC, created by a presidential decree in 1973, is mandated to provide and maintain an adequate and stable supply of energy. Its amended charter includes energy exploration and development. Operations also cover energy development, including indigenous energy sources such as oil, gas, coal and geothermal.
Building an LNG hub has become imperative for the government in view of the expected depletion of the production life of the offshore Palawan gas project by around 2022 to 2024. Malampaya delivers up to 20% of the country’s requirements to produce electricity. — Victor V. Saulon