FIRST GEN Corp. said its subsidiary had applied for regulatory permit to start constructing an offshore terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) within its energy complex in Batangas City.

The Lopez-led company said the application of its unit FGEN LNG Corp. consists of the “construction works necessary to (i) modify First Gen’s existing liquid fuel jetty that will enable it to become multiple-use (allowing the receipt of large and small-scale LNG vessels as well as liquid fuel vessels, and (ii) build an adjunct onshore gas receiving facility.”

It said the unit applied to the Department of Energy (DoE) for a permit to construct, expand, rehabilitate and modify (PCERM) on the same day it disclosed the information to the stock exchange in a letter dated March 4, 2020.

Once completed, the project will allow First Gen to bring in a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) on an “interim basis” and hasten the introduction by FGEN LNG of the imported fuel to the Philippines.

“This innovation can readily serve the natural gas requirements of existing and future gas-fired power plants of third parties and FGEN LNG affiliates, and bring the country closer to its goals of energy security, expanded energy access and low-carbon future,” the listed energy company said.

It said the goals are among the stated objectives under the Philippine Energy Plan 2017-2040, which is crafted by the DoE.

“An FSRU is an LNG storage ship that has an onboard regasification plant capable of returning LNG back into a gaseous state,” it said.

First Gen said its unit anticipates that, if the PCERM is granted by the DoE, it will be able to start constructing the project as early as May this year, allowing it to receive imported LNG as early as the third quarter of 2022.

FGEN LNG believes that the project, and the early entry of LNG, will play a critical role in ensuring the energy security of the Luzon grid, the parent firm said, since the indigenous Malampaya gas resource “is expected to be less reliable in producing and providing sufficient fuel supply for the country’s existing gas-fired power plants, and even less so for additional gas-fired power plants.”

“The entry of LNG will encourage new gas-fired power plant developments, as well as industrial and transport industries to consider it as a replacement to more costly and polluting fuels,” it added.

First Gen said the project represents the initial phase of the FGEN Batangas LNG terminal, which was previously declared by the Energy Investment Coordinating Council through the DoE as an “Energy Project of National Significance” (EPNS) under Executive Order No. 30. Projects declared as nationally significant enjoy faster permitting from government agencies.

First Gen, the country’s leading gas power generation company, has around 2,000 megawatts (MW) in operating gas facilities comprising of four gas-fired power plants, namely: the 1,000-MW Santa Rita power plant, the 500-MW San Lorenzo, the 414-MW San Gabriel, and the 97-MW Avion power plant.

First Gen earlier said that its project could also potentially supply natural gas to the 1,200 MW Ilijan power plant. — Victor V. Saulon