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First Gen seeks ship bids

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Mid-November submission set for 3 preferred providers

LOPEZ-LED First Gen Corp. has issued bid invitations to its three preferred providers of a natural gas transfer vessel to be used in its short-term import terminal in Batangas.

The power firm is poised to bring in the country’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports through its offshore terminal project with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.

It told the stock exchange on Wednesday that it sent out binding tender invitations to three chosen contractors for a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU).

The bidders are BW Gas Ltd. of global gas shipping company BW Group, New York-listed GasLog’s unit GasLog LNG Services Ltd., and Hoegh LNG Asia Pte Ltd., owned by the Norwegian LNG carrier provider Hoegh LNG Holdings.

Their bids are due to be submitted in “mid-November,” First Gen Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan C. Russell told the publication. No minimum bid price was also required, he said.

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An FSRU is capable of storing LNG and returning it to its gaseous state. It can typically store between 125,000-170,000 cubic meters of natural gas.

Earlier in the month, First Gen said its subsidiary FGEN LNG Corp. picked the Philippine unit of Australia-based McConnell Dowell Group to build its interim gas terminal. It previously contracted the engineering firm for the construction of its liquid fuel jetty, which will be converted to a multi-purpose structure. The company will also build an adjunct onshore gas receiving facility as part of the project.

The Department of Energy has greenlighted the construction of the $300-million project, which was designated as an energy project of national significance. This meant that the project can enjoy faster permitting from government agencies.

First Gen plans to begin the construction phase in the fourth quarter as soon as it can provide the design, as well as the enhanced safety and work protocols and procedures to minimize the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on construction personnel and the energy company’s host community.

The joint venture project came out of the joint development deal between First Gen and Tokyo Gas two years ago.

On Oct. 7, the two signed a joint cooperation agreement to pursue the design, development, testing, commissioning, construction, ownership, and operations and maintenance of the gas terminal project. This gives the Japanese firm a 20% interest in it.

Once Tokyo Gas can make a final investment decision, it will enter into a definitive agreement with the local company.

The Philippines is currently looking into LNG imports as an alternative to its depleting natural gas resources in Malampaya, northwest of Palawan. The reserves in the gas field are expected to completely dry out by 2027, according to the DoE.

First Gen previously said it could bring in imported LNG as early as the third quarter of 2022.

Shares in First Gen inched up 0.77% to close at P26.30 each on Wednesday. — Adam J. Ang

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