News and Press Releases

News Releases from May, 2019  

  • 2:07 pm on May 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    First Gen, Tokyo Gas start LNG work in race to beat Malampaya depletion

    May 29, 2019

    FIRST GEN Corp. broke ground on Tuesday at the site of its liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in its Clean Energy Complex in Batangas City, which it hopes to get operational before the Malampaya gas field is depleted in 2024.

    The project, which is being pursued by the Lopez-led firm through its unit FGEN LNG Corp. in partnership with Japan’s Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., is expected to be completed in about three years.

    “… [W]e want to get (the LNG terminal) finished before Malampaya expires. We’re hoping to get the project finished in 2023,” First Gen Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan C. Russel told reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony at the project site on Tuesday, adding that the company is looking to expand the capacity of its facility in Batangas by building two additional power plants.

    “Next to the San Gabriel site, we have two additional vacant lots which can take two more units,” Mr. Russel explained.

    “We need to build them by 2023, so ideally we would start them in 2020.”

    First Gen operates four gas-fired power plants in Luzon, namely: the 1,000-MW Santa Rita power plant, the 500-MW San Lorenzo power plant, the 414-MW San Gabriel power plant and the 97-MW Avion power plant.

    The company said it is talking to several financial institutions to secure financing for the LNG terminal project, which is priced at around $700 million-1 billion.

    “We’re in discussion with a number of financial institutions. But I think we anticipate that we may proceed on the basis of balance sheet financing initially and then look at some kind of take-out financing later on,” Mr. Russel said.

    First Gen’s LNG terminal is the first to move forward to construction stage after the government expressed support for LNG as a key to secure the country’s energy resource.

    It will occupy approximately 21 hectares of land within the Clean Energy Complex of First Gen in Batangas City, and will include facilities for unloading LNG carriers and an LNG storage tank.

    Aside from First Gen, Dennis A. Uy’s Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. and partner China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) also have a notice to proceed from the Department of Energy (DoE) to pursue an LNG terminal in Batangas.

    Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the First Gen-Tokyo Gas project is “putting the Philippines in the value chain of LNG.”

    “We are acting as a de facto transshipment point for gas that is going to China… Now, we are closer to the realization of this project… the country now will become part of the LNG value chain because we can receive and export gas.”

    First Gen President and Chief Operating Officer Francis Giles B. Puno noted that once the company’s LNG terminal is completed, it will be open to other users.

    “We want to make it clear: we’re not building a terminal just for our purpose… Essentially, this terminal is meant to be able to expand gas usage not only for First Gen but for other users,” Mr. Puno told reporters.

    First Gen Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Federico R. Lopez told reporters separately: “We’d like to keep moving ahead… to really make sure natural gas, which is really the best option for us in the transition to a decarbonized world, [is available]…”

    Originally posted by:
    Business World

  • 2:00 pm on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    First Gen explores geothermal prospects in Taiwan

    May 23, 2019

    MANILA, Philippines — Lopez-led First Gen Corp. is looking at geothermal prospects and local partners in Taiwan as its eyes to further expand its overseas ventures through subsidiary Energy Development Corp. (EDC).

    The group continues to expand its international presence by focusing on geothermal developments, First Gen president and chief operating officer Francis Giles Puno said in an interview.

    “We’ve always been in the international arena. Except that in the international arena, we have not focused on areas where we don’t feel we have competitive advantage,” he said.

    “And the competitive advantage of First Gen is in geothermal, so that’s where we choose to play in the international area,” Puno said.

    As part of its overseas expansion, First Gen is exploring the geothermal industry of Taiwan.

    The group is in talks with local concession holders in Taiwan for possible partnership and to offer its technical expertise in geothermal development.

    EDC is the country’s largest geothermal developer and is among the world’s top integrated geothermal companies.

    Meanwhile, the Lopez Group remains interested in developing geothermal sites in Indonesia.

    “We have a concession in Indonesia. We’re also trying to look for a partner there,” Puno said.

    Last year, EDC said was looking at a potential of 200 megawatts project in Indonesia. However, the Indonesian law requires it to tap a local partner and sell at least five percent to develop the project.

    The firm also plans to participate in the auction of geothermal assets in Chile and Peru.

    Apart from owning geothermal projects, EDC is also conducting oil drilling operations overseas.

    The company has drilling projects in Japan and Kenya.

    At home, EDC is pushing for incentives for the development of geothermal prospects to augment the country’s baseload power supply.

    EDC president and chief operating officer Richard Tantoco has touted geothermal as “the holy grail of renewable energy” being the cleanest, most reliable and readily available.

    “The Philippines has a vast geothermal potential. To spur the development of these untapped geothermal potential, we urge the government to incentivize the development of geothermal, which can provide not just clean and reliable power, but jobs and livelihoods to local communities as well,” he said.

    At present, the country is powered by coal by over 50 percent. However, coal power generation has been identified as the greatest contributor to climate change, with almost 61 percent of global carbon emissions coming from energy and industrial processes.

    Originally published by:
    The Philippine Star

  • 12:52 pm on May 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    The Role of Natural Gas in the Shift to Green Energy

    May 17, 2019

    Fossil fuel is a term used to describe a group of energy sources that were formed when ancient plants and organisms (fossils) were exposed to intense heat and pressure over millions of years. Fossil fuels are the world’s dominant energy source, making up 82% of the global energy supply. They continue to power various industries, most notably the electric power, transportation, and the production of consumer products such as paints, detergents, plastics, cosmetics, and some medicines. Considering their massive benefits and uses, fossil fuels have the highest consumption rate in today’s world.

    In the Philippines, fossil fuels power 72 percent of our total electricity requirement.

    Why is there, then, an urgent and loud global call to abandon fossil fuels and to shift to renewable sources of energy?

    The answer is quite simple, really. Fossil fuels largely contribute to global warming and accelerated climate change.

    Burning fossil fuels releases a large amount of carbon dioxide into the air. In fact, in 2016 alone, 9.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere. According to James Hansen, former Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “You can’t simply burn all the known fuel fossil reserves in the ground without making a different planet.”

    The presence of high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in global warming which, in effect, leads to rapid climate change that induces adverse conditions such as rise in sea levels, extreme weather disturbances, melting of polar ice, ocean acidification, destruction of biodiversity, among others.

    Like other developing countries, the Philippines plays a minor role in total global carbon emissions, yet suffers an inordinately major cost. As early as 2009, the World Bank warned that the Philippines, being situated in the Pacific Typhoon Belt, topped the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change. (Super Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest Philippine storm ever recorded and one of the most powerful typhoons in world history, could attest to that.)

    We are virtually on the brink of a climate inferno, and if we do not address the problems posed by fossil fuels fast, we will be completely scorched.

    Is total shift to Renewable Energy (RE) possible?

    To reduce carbon emissions and to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change, many countries have set a timeline to shut down their fossil fuel power plants, most particularly their coal plants. Germany, one of the top 10 countries in global coal consumption, just recently came out with a proposal on how its country is going to completely end coal-fired power by 2038.

    The Philippines, as a tropical archipelago, has the potential to generate a lot of energy from RE sources. We have Hydroelectric power from moving water, Geothermal power from the heat beneath the Earth’s surface, Solar power from solar energy, Wind power from moving air, and Biomass energy from natural resources like bagasse, rice husks, and coconut husks.

    According to the Department of Energy, “the available renewable energy sources and their energy potentials are wind power estimated at 76,000 megawatts (MW), hydropower at 10,500 MW, geothermal at 1,200 MW, ocean energy at 170,000 MW, biomass (bagasse) at 236 MW, solar energy at an average of 5 kilowatt-hour (kWh) per square meter per day, as well as the vast untapped potential of micro-hydro power.”

    However, there are many challenges that need to be overcome before a complete shift to RE in the Philippines is realized. True, it is clean, sustainable and with minimal (for Geo, Hydro, Biomass) to no fuel cost (Solar, Wind), but its technology is relatively new and may thus be costly and it is also intermittent – at least until the concern of how it can be efficiently stored is properly addressed. Experts say that renewable energy isn’t ready to stand on its own yet. So, while the world is refining the RE technology, we need to find the perfect energy mix that can supply our energy demands while minimizing impact on the environment.

    Natural Gas, as the cleanest of the so-called “fossil fuels,” is the perfect complement to Renewable Energy

    Natural gas may fall under the encompassing title of Fossil Fuels but, compared with the others, it is much cleaner and is, thus, more environment-friendly. It emits 60% less carbon dioxide, almost 100% less sulfur dioxide, and up to 80% less nitrogen oxide compared to coal plants. Burning natural gas has no harmful by-products such as ash, sludge, or particulate matter. Natural gas plants are also more affordable to construct and operate compared with coal plants, helping make the electricity they produce competitively with that of coal. Natural gas is also efficient, which means that less fuel is needed to generate the same amount of electricity. This helps allow gas plants to generate electricity at affordable costs and with less emissions. Finally, it is fast and reliable. Natural gas plants can start up much faster –up to 500 times– than other fossil fuel plants and can perfectly complement the intermittency of renewable energy.

    Energy sources like solar and wind are intermittent as it fluctuates with weather and the daily cycle, causing disruption in electricity generation. Installing more flexible natural gas plants which can turn on and off and adjust to the needs of the grid, can fill in quickly whenever renewable generation slips.

    Indeed, because it is clean, affordable, reliable and flexible, natural gas can provide immense help in the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future.

    With a total of 4 natural gas power plants, First Gen Corporation is a pioneer and leader in the natural gas industry. It is the only power-generating company of its size that does not have coal power in its portfolio. It is the supplier of 1/5 of the Philippine’s power demand, producing 3,492 megawatts of clean and low-carbon energy.

    In 2018, First Gen natural gas power plants helped avoid emissions of about 8 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That is equivalent to removing about 1.7 million passenger vehicles, recycling 2.8 million tons of waste, or planting around 132 million trees over 10 years.

    First Gen Corporation has all their natural gas-fired power plants in its Clean Energy Complex in Batangas City: the 1000-MW Sta. Rita, 500-MW San Lorenzo, 414-MW San Gabriel, and 97-MW Avion. Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo helped kick-start the industry by being part of the pioneering capacity that enabled Malampaya; San Gabriel is the most efficient gas plant in South East Asia providing cost-efficient energy to the grid; and Avion is a peaking plant, able to generate full capacity in as little as 12 minutes and provide energy when it is needed the most, with little to no delay.

    Aside from these plants, First Gen’s clean energy platform under its subsidiary, Energy Development Corporation, includes renewable energy plants such as 1,179-MW Geothermal, 10-MW Solar, 150-MW Wind, and 134-MW Hydro.

    First Gen was recognized in 2017 by ADEC Innovations as the “Green Company of the Year,” as the company aims to head towards 100% renewable energy, with its gas portfolio playing a key role in supporting the RE future.

    Originally published by:

  • 12:47 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    First Gen doubles earnings to $81 M

    May 12, 2019

    MANILA, Philippines — Lopez-led First Gen Corp. doubled its net earnings in the first quarter, lifted by higher energy sales, foreign exchange gains and lower deferred income taxes.

    In a statement First Gen said its net income amounted to $81 million (P4.2 billion), an increase of 104 percent year on year.

    The company attributed the growth to the higher electricity sales of its natural gas, geothermal and hydro platforms, as well as forex gains, and lower deferred income taxes.

    In terms of core profit, First Gen reported a 28-percent rise in recurring attributable net income to $77 million.

    Recurring earnings from its geothermal, wind, and solar platform surged 86 percent to $26 million (P1.4 billion) as the Unified Leyte and Tongonan geothermal plants normalized their operations and delivered higher earnings after recovering from the damage in the Leyte site caused by Typhoon Urduja in December 2017.

    Meanwhile, the hydro platform also had higher contribution amounting to $10 million as it benefitted from higher sales to the wholesale electricity spot market and ancillary services.

    The company’s natural gas platform delivered steady recurring earnings of $45 million (P2.4 billion).

    “First Gen’s conscious choice to focus on clean, low carbon and renewable energy is paying off as the long term prospects of our platform is looking brighter. Our impressive first quarter results have set the tone for the rest of the year driven by the reliable performance of our plants across our clean energy, low carbon platform,” First Gen president and chief operating officer Francis Giles Puno said.

    “We expect natural gas and hydro to continue to deliver stable earnings, while geothermal should continue to outperform as it benefits from the full recovery of the Leyte assets and realizes the effects of its efficiency, resiliency, and cost-saving initiatives,” he said.

    Originally posted by:
    Danessa Rivera, The Philippine Star

  • 12:39 pm on May 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Imagine the ‘good switch’ through Natural Gas

    May 10, 2019

    Climate change is real and unequivocal. And it is happening now. According to NASA data, the earth is warming at an alarmingly rapid rate. In fact, all the 10 warmest years in the 138-year record have occurred since 2000—with 2016 as the warmest year since 1880.

    What causes climate change, though, and what are its effects?

    Scientific evidence shows that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Although there are other contributors to the heat-trapping pollution, according to a report by UN Environment and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most significant sources are from electricity and heat production, manufacturing and construction industries, and fugitive emissions from solid fuels, oil, and gas.

    The adverse and dire effects of rapid climate change to our planet include extreme weather conditions (such as longer and hotter heat waves, more frequent droughts, heavier rainfalls, and more powerful hurricanes), shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, rising sea surface temperatures and sea levels, ocean acidification, and shifts in flower/plant blooming times.

    As an archipelago with a tropical climate and one of the longest coastlines in the world, the Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change. We will experience intensified and deadlier typhoons, increased flooding, especially in low-lying areas, longer dry spells, disease outbreaks, extinction of animal and plant species, influx of agricultural pests, and death of coral reefs. Also, sea levels in the country are rising faster than the global average, increasing the hazard posed by storm surges.

    Climate change is a global problem that requires globally-coordinated solutions.

    Between 2000 and 2010, the global rate of greenhouse emissions more than quadrupled from the previous decade, and if this continues to increase as it has been over the last 50 years, then by the end of this century, the world will be at least 4°C warmer than it was before the Industrial Revolution. And the warming will not stop there.

    The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries as we are geographically located along the Pacific Ring of Fire and the Typhoon Belt. What exacerbate the risks further are our relatively low level of economic development and limited resources. Thus, while we are not a big emitter, we remain among the most heavily impacted.

    During the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, a total of 195 countries reached a landmark agreement “to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.” Aside from being a party to that monumental agreement, the Philippines is taking strides toward transitioning to a low-carbon development pathway by implementing various government policies (such as the Renewable Energy Sector Roadmap for 2017-2040 that the Department of Energy designed and initiated, the incentives provided to enterprises that generate and sustain green jobs, etc).

    Everyone should do his or her share to mitigate the impact of climate change.

    Although, it is hard to imagine that we, as individuals, can do something to resolve a problem of this scale and severity, we should at least try. One person’s initiative may be a mere drop in the bucket but, with around 7 billion people around the world contributing to that collective effort, we can ultimately fill any bucket.

    We can start from simple acts such as planting trees, fruits and vegetables, using less plastic, conserving energy in our homes, buying consumer goods that are organic and appliances that are energy-efficient, walking or biking to a nearby destination, and investing in a car with the lowest emission. We should also consider advocating a switch to cleaner energy sources. Together, we have the power to make our voices heard and make big changes happen.

    Shifting to natural gas is the clarion call of the times.

    As the country is taking steps to diversify its energy mix, one source is taking center stage—natural gas.

    Compared with other traditional energy sources, natural gas is much cleaner and is, thus, more environment-friendly. It emits about 60% less carbon dioxide (which contributes to climate change), almost 100% less sulfur dioxide (which contributes to acid rain), and up to 80% less nitrogen oxide (which contributes to smog) versus coal. It has no by-products such as ash, sludge, or particulate matter (which are all harmful to our health and the environment). By choosing cleaner sources of energy, we can help reduce our environmental footprint and avoid pollutants with harmful health impacts.

    Power from natural gas plants is competitively priced—primarily due to the low costs of building and running its plants. Compared to other plants like coal, costs to construct, operate and maintain natural gas plants are much less—up to one third the cost, as reflected in the EIA data on Project and O&M Costs. In 2018, the weighted average generation cost per kWh of natural gas was at around 5 pesos, compared with that of oil at 15 and coal at 6. Another thing that makes natural gas economical is its efficiency. Natural gas plants operate at an efficiency level of 50%-60%, while coal plants only at 30%-40%. This higher level of efficiency allows natural gas plants to generate more electricity with the same amount of fuel, which helps keep costs low. All these translate to lower generation costs.

    Finally, natural gas plants are fast and reliable. A power outage can happen anytime, anywhere, and it may be due to various causes—extreme weather conditions, human error, equipment failure, supply/demand issues, etc. The good thing with natural gas plants is that they can react quickly to these failures. Its plants can start up much faster –up to 500 times—than coal-powered plants and it can perfectly complement the intermittency of renewable energy.

    Indeed, natural gas can provide immense support in the country’s transition towards a Renewable Energy (RE) future. It can most effectively address the challenges posed by RE’s intermittency and its technology’s inability to immediately bridge the gap between the demand for and supply of energy.

    In the Philippines, First Gen Corporation is the pioneer and leader in the natural gas industry. It is the only power-generating company of its size that does not have coal power in its portfolio. It is the supplier of 1/5 of the Philippine’s power demand, producing 3,492 megawatts of clean and low-carbon energy.

    In 2018, First Gen natural gas power plants helped avoid emissions of about 8 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, compared to if we had used coal plants. That is equivalent to removing about 1.7 million passenger vehicles, recycling 2.8 million tons of waste, or planting around 132 million trees over 10 years.

    Admittedly, it will take a while before the world manages, if at all, to completely switch to Renewable Energy. In the meantime, we have to support the use of the cleanest energy mix available to us, which is RE coupled with Natural Gas. Together, let us make the good switch! BrandRoom/LA

    Originally posted by:

  • 12:36 pm on May 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    First Gen wants to get more partners for LNG terminal project

    May 10, 2019

    FIRST GEN Corp. is looking to bring in more partners for its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project as it schedules to break ground by month’s end and targets to make a final investment decision by early 2020 in time for a 2024 completion date.

    “We aim to finalize the financing for the project and execute the relevant key project agreements, including LNG supply and firm up our strategic partners for the project,” Francis Giles B. Puno, First Gen president and chief operating officer, told stockholders during their annual meeting on Wednesday.

    “In fact, we are going to have our formal groundbreaking at the end of the month,” he added.

    Mr. Puno said the existing partnership with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., which was forged in December last year, will proceed with the project ahead of a final investment decision (FID).

    “We anticipate that we’ll bring in more partners, but in the meantime between ourselves and Tokyo Gas, we want to proceed already. So the formal FID will entail a bigger, hopefully a complete group of owners,” he told reporters, adding that a new investor could be a Filipino entity.

    He said the LNG terminal could be completed in four years, and that the existing partners do not intend to underwrite the $1-billion project cost.

    “In our case, probably right now we have 80%, Tokyo Gas has 20%. We don’t intend to own the whole 80%, so it can go down to 50%, 51%, so that’s the flexibility,” he said.

    Jonathan C. Russel, First Gen executive vice-president and chief commercial officer, said a number of nationalities had expressed “a great deal of interest” in the project. He said the partnership talks include those with potential fuel suppliers.

    “I can’t give you any names, but we are in advanced discussions with a number of entities, so it’s possible that in the near future, we’ll announce additional partners that are coming in,” he said. “Within the next few months, we may have additional announcements.”

    “We can accommodate more than one partner. It’s just a question of trying to choose partners that add the most value and also will be easy for us to work as a group, good chemistry and a strong combination,” Mr. Russel said.

    In the meantime, First Gen is setting aside up to $250 million for this year’s capital expenditure, most of which will be used by subsidiary Energy Development Corp. (EDC).

    “For consolidated [capex], it’s about $220 to $230 [million], bulk of that will be with EDC, it’s about $150 [million], then the rest would be with gas,” Emmanuel P. Singson, First Gen Corp. senior vice-president and chief financial officer, said.

    However, EDC President and Chief Operating Officer Richard B. Tantoco said the consolidated amount could reach $250 million to include additional budget for a geothermal-related project.

    “Some of it will be for projects, and then some of it will be for things that we’ll do in the power plant like cooling tower upgrades,” he said. “So it’s investments that will optimize the assets’ flexibility.”

    Last year, the group’s consolidated capex was $100 million, Mr. Singson said.

    On Wednesday, shares in First Gen slipped by 5.88% to close at P20 each.

    Originally published by:
    Victor V. Saulon, Business World

  • 12:27 pm on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    First Gen nears EPC deal for planned LNG project

    May 09, 2019

    MANILA, Philippines — First Gen Corp. expects to finalize a deal with its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors and additional partners for its planned $1-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal “in the next few months.”

    The EPC contract for the LNG terminal is a toss up between two international firms, Texas-based Fluor Corp. and JGC Corp. of Japan, said First Gen executive vice president and chief commercial officer Jon Russell.

    “Front-end engineering design (FEED) is already finished…We’re just finalizing the terms. We hope to make the decision in the next couple of months,” he said.

    At the same time, First Gen is also in talks with several foreign and local potential investors as it eyes more partners for the massive project.

    The project is currently being jointly pursued by First Gen with Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., Japan’s largest natural gas utility.

    “We’re in discussions with a number of entities…within the next few months, we may have an announcement,” Russell said.

    “Hopefully leading to a final investment decision (FID) either late this year or early this year. That still allows us to meet the deadline to have the terminal ready by 2024 when the Malampaya contract expires,” he said.

    Construction of an LNG terminal usually takes four years to complete.

    Even without the FID, First Gen and Tokyo Gas will proceed with the groundbreaking of the LNG facility on May 28, First Gen president and chief operating officer Giles Puno said.

    “The way it works is we anticipate that we will bring in more partners. In the meantime, between ourselves and Tokyo Gas, we want to proceed already so the formal FID will have a complete group of owners,” he said.

    FGEN LNG Corp., a subsidiary of First Gen, signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with Tokyo Gas in December last year to build the project.

    Currently, First Gen owns 80 percent of the project while Tokyo Gas owns the remaining 20 percent. The Lopez firm is willing to sell down its stake and retain a good majority in the project, Puno said.

    “We don’t intend to own the entire 80 percent, we can go down to 50 or 51 percent,” he said.

    In terms of capital expenditure, bulk of the project’s spending will be made next year although initial ground work has already been prepared.

    For this year, First Gen is spending up to $250 million this year, mostly going to its renewable energy arm Energy Development Corp., its chief financial officer Emmanuel Singson said.

    The FGEN Batangas LNG terminal project is intended to serve the natural gas requirements of existing and future gas-fired power plants of third parties and FGEN LNG affiliates within the Batangas Clean Energy Complex.

    The onshore storage and regasification terminal will have a capacity to supply three to five million tons of natural gas equivalent to 5,000 megawatts (MW) and is expected to cost more than $1 billion.

    The Batangas Clean Energy Complex also houses approximately 2,000 MW composed of four gas-fired power plants – the 1,000 MW Santa Rita Power Plant, the 500 MW San Lorenzo Power Plant, the 414 MW San Gabriel Power Plant and the 97 MW Avion Power Plant.

    Originally published by:
    Danessa Rivera, The Philippine Star

  • 12:15 pm on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    First Gen races against time to build $1-B crucial LNG hub

    May 09, 2019

    First Gen Corp. expects to break ground by the end of May a $1-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Batangas, which will also be its Japanese partner’s first facility outside its home country.

    First Gen president Francis Giles Puno said in a press briefing the project would begin even if the Lopez-led firm and Tokyo Corp. were still in talks with additional partners.

    “We are focused on working to achieve a final investment decision by early 2020 for the LNG terminal,” Puno said. “Even then, First Gen and Tokyo Gas—between the two of them—want to start early.”

    He said First Gen had an 80-percent participating interest in the project, with Tokyo Gas holding the remaining 20 percent. He said, however, First Gen was willing to scale down to a 50-percent stake to lessen its exposure and accommodate more partners.

    A contract for engineering, procurement and construction is also expected to be finalized “within the next couple of months,” according to First Gen chief commercial officer Jonathan Russell, who is in charge of LNG project.

    Puno said the site for the LNG facility, which is near First Gen’s gas-fired power plants in Batangas, was “well-prepared” and additional preparations could be prefunded through equity.

    First Gen, which has a portfolio of gas-fired generators with a total capacity of 2,017 megawatts, currently relies on fuel from the Malampaya project—the contract for which will expire in 2024.

    First Gen’s LNG facility will take four years to build in time for the expiration of the Malampaya franchise. Building the LNG terminal will ensure fuel for the power plants, whether or not Malampaya will continue to produce beyond 2024.

    Russel said there would be no energy security for the Philippines with respect to natural gas without an LNG terminal, irrespective of whether there would be more supply from Malampaya or if a new gas field would be discovered and developed in the Philippines.

    LNG imports could also complement the local supply, Russel said. In the absence of indigenous sources, imported fuel would ensure the power plants could continue to supply electricity to its customers, mainly Manila Electric Co.

    Company officials insisted natural gas-based electricity could compete with coal-based power in terms of price.

    Originally published by:
    Ronnel W. Domingo, Inquirer