US firm proposes LNG facility in Philippines

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US-based Excelerate Energy L.P. has joined the list of companies planning to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the Philippines as it filed on Dec. 27, 2018 its proposal with the Energy department, officials of the agency said on Monday.

Excelerate becomes the fourth company with an ambition to put up a facility ahead of the expected depletion of the Malampaya gas field, the country’s only natural gas fuel source.

Rino E. Abad, director of the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB), said the US company, which is based in Texas, plans to build a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) off the Batangas area.

Nag-instruct kaagad ako noong Monday, sinabihan ko na start na ‘yung evaluation (I immediately instructed on Monday to start the evaluation),” Mr. Abad told reporters, adding that he expects the evaluation to be completed in a few days.

The DoE’s move to encourage the development of an LNG facility comes as it expects the depletion of Malampaya gas to start by 2024, thus the need for a storage facility for imported gas, which is transformed into a liquefied state for ease of transport. The fuel is then regasified at the trading destination.

Separately, Ma. Laura L. Saguin, chief science research specialist at the DoE, said the latest LNG proponent is building the project on its own, without any local partner. She said full foreign ownership is allowed under local regulations.

The proposal of Excelerate is currently being evaluated by the DoE’s technical working group. The proposal of First Gen Corp. and its Japanese partner Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. is also in this stage of evaluation, the DoE officials said.

Ms. Saguin said she expects Excelerate to also include a power plant to go with its LNG project as commercial viability is one of the factors being looked into by the DoE in approving a project. The officials declined to give details on the project’s capacity.

Based on information found on its website, Excelerate is part of a privately held US energy group that also includes Kaiser Francis Oil Co., which has production projects in the US and Canada, and Cactus Drilling Co., a private drilling company in the US.

“Excelerate is the pioneer and market leader in innovative floating LNG solutions, providing integrated services along the entire LNG value chain with an objective of delivering rapid-to-market and reliable LNG solutions to customers. Excelerate offers a full range of floating regasification services from FSRU to infrastructure development to LNG supply,” the company website added.

Ahead of Excelerate and First Gen’s LNG projects, the DoE’s technical working group evaluated the application of two other proponents — Australia’s Energy World Corp. Ltd. (EWC), and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. and its Chinese partner China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC).

EWC last week disclosed to the Australian Securities Exchange, that DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi had issued to Energy World Gas Operations Philippines, Inc. a permit to construct, own and operate an LNG import terminal and regasification facility at Pagbilao Grande Island, Quezon province.

Mr. Abad said the proposal of Phoenix Petroleum has yet to be signed by Mr. Cusi as the office of DoE Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola had questions about the project. He declined to disclose details of the delay. — Victor V. Saulon