Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. is exploring how it can maximize the value of its non-core assets after its board greenlit the unloading of certain assets to manage its debts, an official of the Dennis A. Uy-led listed firm said.

“Nothing is definitive yet, but one of the things we are exploring is how we can maximize the value of assets that are outside the core of [the] business of marketing. We are also looking at potential partnerships that could support and accelerate growth of our various businesses,” Alan Raymond T. Zorrilla, Phoenix Petroleum’s senior vice-president for external affairs, business development and security, told BusinessWorld in a mobile message on Wednesday.

He did not, however, disclose what the specific assets were.

According to Mr. Zorrilla, the firm decided to secure internal approvals to assure potential buyers or investors that the management is authorized to negotiate with them.

He said Phoenix Petroleum will disclose potential transactions at the appropriate time.

On Tuesday, the firm gave its management the go signal to enter into negotiations with any interested entity for the “possible transfer, sale, mortgage or disposition of certain corporate properties, assets and investments.”

The firm added that the transactions must also be “under reasonable and acceptable terms and conditions that are advantageous to [Phoenix Petroleum].”

Phoenix Petroleum clarified on Monday that, like any business, the company or any of its units are “open to consider any investor willing to invest and believes in the operations [of Phoenix Petroleum] and can further add value to its business activities.”

It reiterated that the offers are “nothing new”, and it has been “open to all investors who believed in its core business and can bring in value to its operations, finances, and to its shareholders.”

Shares of Phoenix Petroleum in the local bourse shed 4.01% or 46 centavos to finish at P11 apiece on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Petroleum and its top official have distanced themselves from a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal project whose regulatory notice to proceed was earlier canceled.

The oil firm, the country’s third-largest in terms of market share, told the stock exchange on Thursday it was its Chinese partner that had registered the project entity.

“First off, Tanglawan is an SPV [special purpose vehicle] registered by CNOOC with the Commission,” Phoenix Petroleum said in its disclosure, which was prompted by a letter from the Philippine Stock Exchange seeking clarification.

Tanglawan Philippines LNG, Inc. was disclosed in January 2019 by Phoenix Petroleum as the entity that had been granted the notice to proceed (NTP) to build an LNG terminal in Batangas.

The oil company said back then that it had planned to break ground for the project by that year.

“The company plans to break ground by 2019 for the regasification and receiving terminal with a capacity of 2.2 mtpa [million metric tons per year], with commercial operations targeted to start by 2023,” Phoenix Petroleum said at that time.

“The LNG facility will help support the demand for a clean and reliable energy source in Luzon and contribute to the sustainable development of the Philippine economy.” it added.

It also said that Tanglawan “will be a joint venture between the Philippine’s fastest-growing oil company, Phoenix Petroleum, and China’s largest LNG importer and terminal operator, CNOOC Gas and Power Group Co., Ltd.”

“The integrated long-term project plan also aims to develop a gas-fired power generation facility with up to 2,000 megawatts installed capacity,” .

However, on Thursday, Phoenix Petroleum said that the company nor Mr. Uy “is not part nor do they own shares, directly or indirectly, in Tanglawan.”

“Please note that Phoenix Petroleum supported CNOOC in Tanglawan’s NTP application with the view that Phoenix Petroleum will later join Tanglawan venture company led by CNOOC,” it said in its disclosure.

But as early as February 2019, Phoenix Petroleum said that its board had approved and granted the company or its subsidiaries the authority to enter into a joint venture/cooperation with CNOOC to establish and operate various LNG-related trade and services under a so-called LNG integrated hub project.

The board also approved the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary to manage Phoenix Petroleum’s LNG interest in that hub, including the receiving terminal for the fuel and the operation of a gas-fired power plant.

It also authorized the company to invest P250 million for the project.

But in December 2019, Phoenix Petroleum confirmed that Tanglawan requested “to hold in abeyance” the LNG project after the former’s parent firm acquired the stake of Chevron Malampaya LLC in the Malampaya gas-to-power project, the country’s only source of natural gas.

The confirmation came after DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said that the entities behind Tanglawan requested to withdraw their application for the LNG terminal. But he also said that they planned to submit a new concept.

In January this year, a DoE official said the agency was “constrained to cancel” the notice to proceed. — Angelica Y. Yang and VVS