February 14, 2019 / 3:16 AM / 8 months ago

Philippines' Phoenix seeks LNG alliance with state firm PNOC

MANILA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc said on Thursday it is in talks with state-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) for a “strategic alliance” on its proposed $2 billion liquefied natural gas hub.

Phoenix, a fuel retailer, has won government approval to build an LNG regasification and receiving terminal and has tapped CNOOC Gas and Power Group Co Ltd, a unit of CNOOC and China’s largest LNG importer and terminal operator, as a partner.

The Philippines is looking to import LNG to feed its gas-fired power plants as domestic gas supply from the country’s Malampaya field is set to run out by 2024 at the earliest.

Phoenix, owned by Dennis Uy, a Filipino businessman with close ties to President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement that a Memorandum of Understanding could be signed with PNOC in the coming weeks.

Phoenix said the alliance with PNOC could involve pipeline infrastructure, PNOC’s share of Malampaya gas, equity, and marketing opportunities.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told Reuters that PNOC, of which he is the board chairman, “was approached by some potential investors for a possible 10-15 percent participating interest” in an LNG project, but he gave no further details.

“We just have to wait for further developments,” he said.

Phoenix plans to break ground this year for the LNG terminal in Batangas province, south of the capital Manila, with commercial operations targeted to start by 2023. The facility will have a capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per year and has a 2,000-megawatt power plant component.

Philippine power producer First Gen Corp, which operates four power plants in Batangas with a combined capacity of about 2,000 MW - all running on Malampaya gas - has also applied for a permit to build an LNG terminal.

First Gen, with Tokyo Gas Co Ltd as its LNG partner, is seeking to ensure availability of gas for its power plants ahead of Malampaya’s depletion.

Its application was still under evaluation, Cusi said.

A third party, Australia-listed Energy World Corp, has been developing an LNG import terminal project on Pagbilao island in Quezon province since 2011, but completion has been set back by several delays.

Cusi said EWC is targetting commercial operations at its LNG hub by 2021.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by Richard Pullin

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