DOE seeks 2nd extension on CNG bus pilot project

by Myrna Velasco – January 24, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

With the gas-underpinned vehicle program of the government still failing to gain traction, the Department of Energy (DOE) is now opting for a second round of five-year extension for its compressed natural gas (CNG) pilot program for buses.

Energy Undersecretary Donato Marcos told reporters that the extension may last until 2023 from the initial extended deadline of 2018.

“We are at the process of extending the gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) because it’s needed for the pilot project,” he stressed. The extended GSPA, he explained, must be synchronized with the targeted lapse of the CNG pilot program which shall also be in 2023.

“We want the pilot project to be sustainable, but the GSPA will lapse in 2018 and we don’t want the gas supply contract to lapse when the CNG pilot will still be needing gas supply support,” the energy official said.

He expounded that the pilot program will still be anchored on the targeted deployment of 200 CNG buses at the same preferred price of P14.50 per liter equivalent.

Marcos stressed that the Malampaya consortium led by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. is keen on the proposed extension, “but there are just some processes that have to be followed, that’s why it’s encountering some delays.”

“They (members of the Malampaya consortium) are inclined to extend it because this is a pilot project being supported by the President… but there are processes, the legal implications are being studied also,” he reiterated.

Marcos admitted though that the CNG program has been encountering snags lately – as even the number of CNG buses deployed had been cut to just 31 from previously at 61 – due to problems at the CNG daughter refilling station.

The DOE official said with the extended pilot they have been batting for at least two daughter stations that can effectively serve the gas refilling needs of the buses – one in Batangas and another one in Biñan, Laguna.

The DOE-designed Natural Gas Vehicle Program for Public Transport (NGVPPT) was launched in 2006, with the pilot program initially targeted to wind up 2013.

First extension had been sought for five years or until 2018; and this is now the third implementation timeframe for the well-propounded shift of the country’s public transport to gas.