* Chinese firms eyeing hydro, gas, coal, nuclear projects
* President to sign order to fast-track power plants
* No immediate plan to resume Reed Bank exploration
* Policy flexible to cut costs for consumer, industry
(Adds details, quotes throughout)
By Enrico Dela Cruz and Martin Petty
MANILA, Feb 27 The Philippines needs to build an
additional 7,000 megawatts of power generation capacity over the
next five years to support its fast-growing economy and wants
foreign investors to help, its energy minister said on Monday.
Firms from China, South Korea, Russia and Japan were
interested in new Philippine power projects, and the president
would soon sign an executive order to address soaring power
demand by giving priority status to get new projects ready in
half the time, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told Reuters.
The Philippines, with a population of more than 100 million
people and one of the world's fastest growing economies, aims to
double its power generation capacity by 2030 to avoid a return
to the frequent blackouts suffered during the 1990s.
At the end of June 2016, installed capacity was 20,055
megawatts, a third of it fuelled by coal, according to
government data. Power is generated 34 percent by coal, 34
percent by oil and gas and 32 percent from renewable sources.
The Philippines would be technology neutral, Cusi said, to
avoid being shackled to caps and quotas and create more
competition, with the aim of slashing electricity prices for
industry and consumers. With no state subsidies, prices are the
highest in Southeast Asia.
"What we want is to build our supply to a level that is
meeting the demand with sufficient reserve for industry," Cusi
said in an interview.
"So it's competition at work. Whoever comes first, offers a
good project development, and it will bring down the cost -
Chinese firms were interested in a lead role, he said, in
areas such as hydro, nuclear, coal and LNG areas, plus
construction of those facilities and their financing.
"We were there basically to tell (the Chinese) that our
energy sector is open for business," he said, asked why an
energy ministry delegation was in Beijing last month.
At least three Japanese firms, including Osaka Gas
and Tokyo Gas had been in talks about investments in
new LNG projects, he added.
Plans for gas power plants and storage facilities are in
preparation for the anticipated depletion by 2024 of gas fields
at the Malampaya project, an offshore field that fuels 40
percent of Luzon island, home to the capital Manila.
Although energy security was a priority, Cusi said it was
too early to discuss exploration of offshore gas fields known as
SC 72 and SC 75, at the Reed Bank in the South China Sea.
Though those are located within the exclusive economic zone
of the Philippines, the sites fall within the vast area of the
waterway that China lays claim to. By some industry estimates,
SC 72 alone may have triple the reserves of Malampaya.
But Cusi said the energy ministry needed to await direction
from the foreign ministry on the status of diplomatic relations
with China before lifting a suspension on exploration in those
"It needs to be clarified," he said. "We want to go forward
with it without any disruption."
He said it was too soon to discuss whether the two countries
could share the resources, as has been suggested by President
(Writing by Manolo Serapio Jr. and Martin Petty; Editing by