THE head of the MVP group of companies said on Monday that he was looking at acquiring the stake of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEx) in the Malampaya gas-to-power project off the northwest Palawan coast.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), said that his group had recently submitted a non-binding offer to the operator of the country’s only natural gas field.

“We’re looking at acquiring the share stake. We have submitted our final non-binding offer to Shell,” he said during a briefing on Meralco’s operating and financial results for 2020.

Mr. Pangilinan, who also chairs oil and gas explorer PXP Energy Corp., identified the companies that submitted the offer for the 45% share of SPEx as First Pacific Co. Ltd. and Philex Mining Corp.

“[We submitted the offer at] 5:01 p.m. last Friday,” he said.

The move comes six months after Udenna Corp. of Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy revealed its plans to jointly acquire the 45% operating interest of Royal Dutch Shell’s domestic exploration unit in Malampaya, alongside the Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp.

In 2019, the Malampaya field was able to provide 3,200 megawatts of electricity, making up 21.1% of the country’s gross power generation. According to the Department of Energy, the project’s reserves are expected to completely be depleted by 2027. — Angelica Y. Yang