Foreign LNG companies ‘committed’ to entering PHL — Gatchalian

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FOREIGN entities have approached the Senate energy committee to seek guidance on the direction of the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, the panel’s chairman said, pointing to the continuing interest to set up local facilities.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, said the foreign companies, which he said have businesses related to LNG, were “committed” to enter the Philippines as they had visited his office “a few times.”

Aside from the foreigners, he said some local groups had sought an audience with his office on their plans to develop LNG facilities.

As an example, Mr. Gatchalian cited the group of businessman Lucio C. Tan through MacroAsia Corp., which he said has a US company as partner for the project.

“You have to partner with the US. They’re the most abundant in terms of supply of LNG. Mura pa (And also cheap),” he told reporters.

MacroAsia is a prospective new entrant in the local LNG business, which already has First Gen Corp. and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. as the leaders in terms of project development.

Last week, Lopez-led First Gen and its partner Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. secured certification from the Energy department to declare their project as one of national significance, helping ease the process of securing permits. Phoenix Petroleum earlier sought extension of its notice to proceed with its separate project. Both groups plan to build an integrated LNG facility.

Mr. Gatchalian identified the possible new participants as Gen X Energy, a company backed by an affiliate of Blackstone, an energy company that invests in projects in Asia. He said the foreign firm is the partner of MacroAsia.

Mr. Gatchalian also named Chevron Corp., which is partnering with Japanese trading house JERA Co., Inc. and shipping line NYK Line.

He also said Cheniere Energy, Inc., an LNG company based in Texas, as “looking around” for a possible partner. Representatives of these companies have visited his office.

“I think they are seeking, unang una (first of all), they are seeking for guidance, and then second they’re also seeking to get some opinion regarding legislation kasi alam din nila walang legislative framework ito (because they also know this does not have legislative framework),” the senator said.

Asked about what the prospective LNG project developers want to see in a proposed LNG law, he said: “Basically, typically ang nakukuha kong (what I am getting as) feedback from them is competition. They should be able to compete and looking at how many interested parties, talagang (surely) we have to make sure that competition is vibrant in the industry.” — Victor V. Saulon