Banks asked to withdraw from 2 gas projects
By Angelica Y. Yang, Reporter
SEVERAL groups, including environmental organizations, have asked investors to withdraw funding and support for two proposed gas facilities based in Batangas.
The facilities are SMC Global Power Corp.’s subsidiary Excellent Energy Resources, Inc.’s 1,700-megawatt (MW) combined cycle power plant and Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Co.’s (AG&P) liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility based in Ilijan.
According to letters shared by local think tank Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) on Tuesday, the groups said that residents already bear the health, environmental, social, and economic impacts of existing fossil fuel-powered projects in Batangas.
“There are tens of thousands of us who rely on small-scale fishing and many more on eco-tourism, which bring in several millions of pesos of revenue for the province,” the groups said, adding that the presence of any gas-fired facility built in the area will pose hazards to fisherfolk, marine life, and the ecology.
On Tuesday, the letters were sent to officials of China Banking Corp., China Bank Capital, Osaka Gas, Development Bank of the Philippines, Linseed Field Power Corp., Credit Suisse (Hong Kong) Ltd., Standard Chartered Bank and SMC Global Power, among others.
The groups claim that the area can do without the proposed gas facilities since Batangas as part of the marine corridor of the Verde Island Passage, a strait within the Coral Triangle or an area deemed as the center of global shore-fish biodiversity.
The strait houses 60% of the world’s shore fish species, several of which are endemic or threatened.
The groups added that the addition of these two projects will contribute to the “massive expansion of fossil gas projects in the Asian region which threaten to aggravate the climate crisis.”
“As we begin to abandon coal as a source of energy, many have posited fossil gas as an alternative fuel source and a transition vehicle towards renewable energy,” the groups said.
“However, the fossil gas industry releases large amounts of methane — a greenhouse gas whose influence, if viewed in over 10 to 20-year time scales, is at least as large as that of carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest Sixth Assessment Report,” they added.
Sought for comment, AG&P, through its official communications partner, told BusinessWorld that it has received an environmental compliance certificate for its planned LNG import hub on June 3.
The certificate, which must be secured for “environmentally critical projects,” was issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“We remain in constant dialogue with our community partners as we look to implement environmentally-compliant and economically-viable solutions for the country’s growing energy requirements,” AG&P said.
BusinessWorld has reached out to San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the parent firm of SMC Global Power, for its comments on the matter, but it has not yet replied as of press time.