By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor

SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) is planning to submit an unsolicited proposal to build a new water source that will deliver up to 3,800 million liters per day (MLD) at a much cheaper cost for consumers than the company’s bulk water project in Bulacan, its top official said.

“I will submit an unsolicited proposal within two weeks — a new water source of 3,800 MLD,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said in a briefing on Tuesday after the annual stockholders’ meeting of the listed conglomerate’s Petron Corp.

He said SMC could build the project using private funding of about P35 billion and could be completed within five years.

He declined to say where the new water source will be built and which area it will serve. But Metro Manila’s east zone has been experiencing a water shortage since March 6, prompting SMC to offer some of its excess supply from Bulacan to the area.

Mr. Ang said the proposed project will not use Angat Dam’s water, which is the main source of potable water for the Philippine capital. He said the project would deliver raw water.

Mabebenta namin ang tubig na ’yan, unsolicited offer, to sell the water at P5 per cubic meter lang. Kaya sobrang mura pati (We can sell the water from the unsolicited offer at only P5 per cubic meter. It’s also so cheap),” he said.

Should the project push through, it will be SMC’s most significant project after it won in December 2015 the P24.4-billion bulk water project that will supply water to Bulacan consumers under a 30-year contract.

The proposal of SMC and its Korean partner to supply bulk water at a cost of P8.50 per cubic meter beat the second best offer at P9.75 per cubic meter, making it the first bulk water project under the government’s public-private partnership scheme.

With the planned unsolicited proposal, Mr. Ang said SMC will be doing the project solo and without any local and foreign partner.

The Bulacan bulk water project started its commercial operations early this year. The launch marked the first stage of the project, which will initially bring potable water to four municipalities of Bulacan. The project is undertaken by Luzon Clean Water Development Corp., a unit of SMC, and Korean company K-Water Resources Corp.

During the same press briefing, Mr. Ang said Petron would continue with its investments as well as refinery, port and terminal expansion this year at a capital expenditure of at least $1 billion.

“We are still going to spend over a $1 billion,” he said. He did not disclose the comparable capital spending in 2018.

He said Petron will be building a steam producer boiler in its 180,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Limay, Bataan at a cost of $600 million. He said the investment is meant “to bring down the cost of the refinery and to optimize the refinery.”

Mr. Ang said the remaining $400 million will be used for fuel station network expansion, power line and pipeline upgrading.

On Tuesday, shares in SMC slipped by 0.37% to close at P186 each, while those of Petron rose by 5.36% to P5.70 each.