THE Department of Energy (DoE) said it has tapped German’s MAN Energy Solutions SE to conduct a feasibility study on small-to-medium scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) import and regasification projects in the Visayas and Mindanao.

In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Energy said it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the German company in a virtual signing ceremony on Feb. 22.

“We have always been very vocal about our desire to fully develop the downstream natural gas industry of the Philippines. Studies such as the one that MAN Energy would be conducting contribute to this goal, given that the ability of our natural gas industry to reach maturity depends on the development of the necessary infrastructure such as LNG receiving terminals, gas transmission and distribution pipeline networks, and other ancillary facilities,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said during the signing.

LNG is natural gas cooled to liquid state to facilitate transport. It can generate electricity and can serve as a transition energy before full-scale adoption of renewables.

MAN Energy is also evaluate modes of transport for natural gas, including the facilities that will be needed to boost the LNG market in the regions.

The MAN group produces diesel engines and machinery for marine and stationary applications. It also makes marine propulsion systems.

If the study yields positive results, Mr. Cusi said it will herald a wave of capital investment in the regions.

“If not, the report’s results will still help guide us in recalibrating our strategic direction,” he said.

In July, Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Co. will open its P14.6-billion LNG import terminal project in Ilijan, Batangas, which will become the Philippines’ first LNG terminal.

The facility will have an initial capacity of 3 million tons a year of regasified LNG. It will serve as a storage and transmit LNG to nearby power plants, which are clustered in the area because Batangas is the landing spot for gas piped from the Malampaya field.

The Malampaya natural gas field is expected to be commercially depleted by 2027. — Marielle C. Lucenio