EWC commits 200-MW capacity by June

by Myrna Velasco, 08 March 2015
from Manila Bulletin

The initial 200-megawatt (MW) capacity of the planned three phased liquefied natural gas (LNG) power facility in Pagbilao, Quezon of Australia-headquartered Energy World Corporation (EWC) may finally come on stream around June to July this year.

The company is investing $800 million for both the first unit of its 650-MW power facility and the LNG terminal which will have handling capacity of 130,000 cubic meters.

In an interview with reporters, EWC chairman and chief executive officer Stewart W.G. Elliott said the LNG terminal can store fuel for up to 3,000MW of power capacity; and a second unit of the same capacity will likely be developed to cater primarily to the needs of the Philippine market for gas.

The electricity to be generated from the first unit of the Pagbilao LNG plant has been packaged as a “pure merchant” venture – with the developer taking trading risk in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

“The government would want us to go merchant… we’re following the government – the Department of Energy – because they want to bring in LNG which we did and we’re doing. And they want us to go merchant which we’re doing,” Elliott said.

For its gas supply at the facility, he said that they will be sourcing both from Indonesia and spot markets. He has not categorically answered though if the Indonesian government’s ban on export of gas can be legally resolved in their case.

“We have gas in Indonesia, but we also have a spot market now, it’s so cheap that we can be cheaper than coal with LNG,” he stressed.

The rate comparison is something that even other LNG developers have been weighing at this point though, because the prevailing opinion is that gas would still be more expensive than coal.

Elliott similarly averred that the project was never delayed, because it was just always the Philippine government that has been asking them to advance the project’s implementation.

“We got asked by the Department of Energy – Secretary (Carlos Jericho) Petilla: could we accelerate? And now Congressman (Reynaldo) Umali is also telling us: Can you accelerate? But every time I’ll say we will try, they say: You’re delayed, you’re delayed… so if we have 10 years, then we are early. We’re just trying to be helpful and then we get criticized,” he lamented.

The EWC executive said the company was under no contractual obligation to finish its project on a specified timeline, despite several media reports quoting energy officials then that its Pagbilao plant capacity has been anticipated to become part of this summer’s electricity supply solutions.

“We don’t have contractual commitment for a specific timeframe. There are people who quite frankly don’t want this terminal become successful because there’s a lot of vested interests, so they all tell you the story,” he stressed.

He further dared the media to visit their project site to assess the tangible developments in their construction activities. “You are all invited to the site and see it and touch it,” he said.

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