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First Gen to announce partner for $1-billion LNG terminal in 2017

First Gen Corp. will choose partners for its billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Batangas in the first half of next year.

“We are going though the partner selection process. We have very good names in the shortlist,” said First Gen President Francis Giles Puno, who was present during the two-day first Philippine Clean Energy Summit.

There are eight interested partners, four of which are Japanese, while the other four are Europeans, according to Puno.

“We are talking to Japanese and European players right now. We are spending time with them to see what the fit is because this is going to be a marriage,” said Puno, who added that the Lopez-led firm would be able to conclude the selection process not later than the first half of 2017.

Puno said it is possible the company will choose more than one partner. “We may have multiple partners. The investment has to be meaningful, as well. But we have not really decided on that, yet.”

The planned LNG terminal is estimated to cost around $1 billion. Puno said the financial investment of prospective partners is already factored into the billion-dollar project cost.

“It’s about a billion dollars for the LNG terminal. So, it’s hard for us to fund it alone,” Puno earlier said.

Puno said the LNG terminal’s planned construction and operation is in preparation for the eventual exhaustion of the Malampaya gas field, projected between 2022 and 2024, and to secure the future of the company’s natural-gas platform.

The company is also set to bid out the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project early next year. “We are releasing the tender documents in 2017,” he said.

Puno said the planned LNG terminal is designed to handle 5,000 megawatts (MW) in capacity. “It will be able to supply our gas plants, plus the Ilijan plant, plus many more,” he said.

LNG is natural gas that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transportation. It is re-gasified so it can be distributed through pipelines as natural gas.

First Gen, the largest Philippine operator of gas-fired power plants in the country, owns and operates 19 power plants with 2,959-MW capacity, accounting for 23 percent of the country’s gross power generation.

First Gen operates the 1,000MW Santa Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo gas-fired plants in Batangas province. Its third and fourth gas-fired plants are the 97-MW Avion open cycle natural-gas fired power plant and the 414-MW San Gabriel combined cycle natural gas-fired power plant.

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