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BusinessWorld (Philippines): New Energy chief wants to push more natural gas projects

Alexis Douglas B. Romero,
Published: Aug 14, 2007

Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes yesterday vowed to promote the wider use of natural gas to lessen the country’s dependence on imported oil.

In a press conference, the newly appointed Energy chief said the department will particularly push for natural gas infrastructure to make the alternative fuel available not only for power but also for transport, commercial and industrial use.

“Natural gas is the fuel of the future. [It] provides energy independence, stable and secure energy supply and clean and efficient fuel. We are currently using this for power alone but we need to promote it in the transport, industrial and commercial sectors,” Mr. Reyes said.

There have been suggestions to pursue the construction of the 100- kilometer Batangas-Manila 1 and 140-km Bataan-Manila II gas pipelines. These pipelines will transport gas to power plants.

Other proposed projects are a 40-km Edsa-Taft loop, loops Sucat-Manila (35 km.), Bataan-Cavite (40 km.), Rosario-Binan loop (35 km.) and the 30- km. Calaca Spurline.

The energy chief said these projects will need $5 billion worth of investments in the next seven years.

The department is also planning to build new natural gas facilities in Central Luzon, Cebu, Agusan and Davao, and Palawan.

Mr. Reyes also said compressed natural gas facilities could be built in some areas in Luzon like Batangas, the Clark economic zone, and Cavite.

The projects are on top of Shell Philippines’ compressed natural gas facility that is expected to start commercial operations within the year.

The facility will be composed of a main station in Tabangao, Batangas and a smaller station along the South Luzon Expressway in Binan, Laguna.

Aside from new infrastructure, the department is also proposing to convert the Sucat, Limay, and Malaya coal-thermal power plants to natural gas-fired power facilities.

Last year, natural gas constituted 29% of the country’s power generation mix. Coal and oil made up 27% and 8%, respectively.

Mr. Reyes assured that the country’s power supply is stable and is enough to support an economic expansion.

The energy sector must generate power at a rate of 1.8% more than the growth of yearly gross domestic product to make sure power supply is stable for residential and industrial uses.

Last year, the country had an installed capacity of 15,803 megawatts (MW) and a dependable capacity of 13,639 MW as against the actual peak demand of 8,768 MW.

The Energy department has said that power shortage may occur in Visayas and Mindanao by 2009 and in Luzon by 2010 if there are no new plants.

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