Meralco continues to look for possible investment in LNG

THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) continues to look at the possibility of investing heavily on a power project involving liquefied natural gas (LNG), its president said.

“We continue to look at gas. Gas will continue to play a major role in the energy mix,” Oscar Reyes said.

LNG is regasified so it can be distributed through pipelines as natural gas.

Meralco has named Osaka Gas Co. Ltd. of Japan as a major partner in the project. But the conduct of a feasibility study has yet to take off.

“We are prepared to work with others,” Reyes said when asked for an update of its planned LNG partnership with Osaka Gas. He did not elaborate.

Initially, the two companies are planning to build a 1,500-megawatt (MW) gas-fired power plant that will include a terminal for the LNG.

A 60:40 venture in favor of Meralco, the LNG project is estimated to cost over $2 billion.

Last month, however, Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the feasibility study could not be finished this year. “There is no progress. The Meralco management is busy with its own power plants. We’d rather focus first on those power plants,” Pangilinan said earlier.

Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen), a unit of Meralco, will undertake the project on behalf of the utility firm should talks with Osaka Gas prosper.

Pangilinan earlier said the plant is likely to be built in Luzon, where the demand for power is expected to increase. The power projects mentioned by Pangilinan are the 455-MW plant of San Buenaventura Power Ltd. in Quezon province, 600 MW by Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. (RP Energy) in Subic, and 1,200-MW by Atimonan One Energy also in Quezon. These are all being undertaken by MGen and its partners.

Reyes said the participation of the distribution utility firm in power generation is highly strategic for Meralco.

“Without any generating capacity, Meralco would effectively be only a price-taker and a supply-taker. We look forward to building a portfolio of highly fuel-efficient, highly reliable power-generating facilities of up to 3,000 MW in joint venture with strategic partners,” Reyes said.


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