IF IT were up to him, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said he would have wanted “non-performing” companies affiliated to his department to be abolished or consolidated.
“I want to abolish mga things that are not performing, mga offices that are not performing like sabi ko nga kay Admiral, mabuti pa isara na natin ang PNOC (Philippine National Oil Co.) kung ganyan ang ginagawa natin (I want to abolish things that are not performing, offices that are not performing, like what I’ve said to the admiral, it would be better if we close PNOC if that’s what we are doing),” he told reporters in an informal gathering with other Energy officials.
Mr. Cusi was referring to retired Admiral Reuben S. Lista, president and chief executive officer of PNOC, who first announced the company’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project but has yet to find a partner that will provide capital.
Last month, PNOC announced that it had “postponed until further notice” the process of selecting a partner for the LNG terminal project. The company is attached to the DoE, with the secretary as its ex-officio chairman.
Mr. Cusi had envisioned the project to transform the country into a regional LNG hub, saying that it had been performing as one.
In a notice posted on its website dated Nov. 21, 2018, PNOC said it had postponed the pre-eligibility activity that was supposed to be on Dec. 4. It also postponed the submission date of eligibility documents.
Mr. Cusi has expressed disappointment over the performance of PNOC, which lagged behind private entities in advancing the LNG project.
Thus far, Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. and its Chinese partner China National Offshore Oil Corp. had submitted a proposal with details on technical, financial and legal qualifications.
First Gen Corp. announced earlier this month that it had signed a joint development agreement with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. to pursue the joint development of an LNG terminal at the Lopez-led company’s Batangas Clean Energy Complex.
Meanwhile, the local unit of Australia-listed Energy World Corp. Ltd. said it had revived talks with lenders to finance the completion of its 650-megawatt (MW) combined cycle gas-fired power plant.
Mr. Cusi said if it were up to him, he would proceed with the project even ahead of finding a partner with the funding. He said PNOC had no notable accomplishment even if it has funding because its charter requires it to seek congressional approval for funding.
Sabi ko sa kanila sa board: you know if I were you, if I were PNOC and I own PNOC as a businessman, ibinibigay ang LNG terminal na ‘yan, gagawin ko nalang ‘yan… Kung ako dedesisyunan ko ‘yan. (I told them in the board: you know if I were you, if I were PNOC and I own PNOC as a businessman, and that LNG terminal is being offered, I’d just do it … If it were up to me, I’d decide on it.),” he said.
Mr. Cusi said he would prefer that consolidation of PNOC along with its subsidiaries PNOC-Exploration Corp. and PNOC-Renewables Corp.
Pero (But) I want to assure, I want to say that it’s not as simple as that,” he said, citing the personnel of the companies who might lose their jobs.
Also, only Congress can abolish a government-led company through legislation. — Victor V. Saulon