THE plan of a power company to develop the liquefied natural gas in the Sulu Sea will bring down electricity rates if it is eventually connected to the grid, its top executive said.
Aside from the rates, the same project will also help develop the economy of the province and the entire Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Graham Elliott, executive director of the Energy World Corp., during an online interview Tuesday.
“It will be bringing employment, it will be bringing investment into the regional area that really needs this,” said Elliott, pointing out that the project, which would need about $1 billion in total investment, would result in about $400 million fund getting injected into the local economy.
Initially, the company needs to invest about $300 million of the total fund during the construction phase of the project, which would tap the discovered LNG deposits in the area.
It will also hire about 3,000 workers during the peak of the construction phase as it plans to give priority to the local human resources, while also trying to bring in skilled Filipino workers who have experienced in building similar projects abroad.
Elliott said that on rates, the LNG-fueled power plants produce cheaper power compared with those fueled by fossils like coal and petroleum.
Also, unlike fossil fuels, LNG, while not renewable, is a lot cleaner that just needs to be tapped so that it can help slowly phase out those plants that are using dirty fuels like coal.
At present, he said, the company is waiting for the Department of Energy to approve its proposal so that it can start building the project which would bring in about 3,000 to 5,000 megawatts of power for 20 years of operations.
“Once we have that permission, then we can move forward with the final planning of the project and the implementation,” he said.
On the local front, he said: “We have strong support.”
Another aspect of the project is that it will also be able to spur economic growth of the tourism sector of the province considering that the resort-like housing assets that will house its employees will eventually become accommodation facilities in the area.
On funding, the executive said there have been investors wanting to get a piece of the action and that the government, through its financial institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines, can help fund the project because it is “of national importance.”
He said the project will need three years to build and that the construction phase could start six months after the approval of its permits.
The company has also built an LNG importation hub in Pagbilao, Quezon but the project has yet to provide power to the national grid as the completion of the substation, which is to be built by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, has been delayed.
The two companies signed the agreement for the substation in 2017 as the structure is set to have been completed two years later. The new schedule of completion of the facility, which will connect the project to the grid, is set in the first quarter of next year.
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