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New DOE chief eyes conversion of BNPP into main LNG terminal

Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can be converted into the country’s main hub for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, according to newly-appointed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

The 30-year-old BNPP is being maintained by government at an annual cost of P40 million, which would need a review to determine if “it is still relevant” to do so, Cusi said in his first media briefing yesterday.

He said nuclear energy as power resource could be an option for the country’s power woes but not through the Bataan nuclear facility. “If you’re asking if I’m open to nuclear, well, if it’s the solution, why not but I’m not saying I will do it,” he said.

For the BNPP in particular, the DOE chief said it could be converted into an LNG receiving and distribution hub but it would need deeper study.

“One of the projects that we will be undertaking is to put up an LNG receiving and distribution center… and that could be in Bataan. It could be converted,” he said.

“But that requires more detailed study and I believe initial discussions with the World Bank, International Finance Corp., they are willing to fund the study in making that an LNG terminal,” Cusi said.

The proposal to convert the BNPP facility was a proposal made before in light of the depletion of the Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project by 2022 or 2024.

“We are looking at that [as the country’s] energy city but it’s not my original idea. That has been discussed before. Even Congressman (Reynaldo) Umali has been discussing that,” Cusi said.

“We are looking at Malampaya supply being gone by 2022, 2024 and we would also like to attract more investors in clean energy plants. That (conversion project) would help find a balance in renewables, clean air and coal,” he said.

Putting up of a Batangas-Manila LNG pipeline has been long-proposed to mitigate the impact of Malampaya’s depletion. During President Benigno Aquino III’s term, the project was lined up to be part of its flagship public-private partnership (PPP) program but was pulled out towards the end of his administration due to offtaker concerns.

The DOE convened an inter-agency working group in September 2015 to determine the possibility of drafting the country’s nuclear power policy, as well as utilizing the BNPP, for the next administration to decide on.

The working group is composed of representatives from the DOE, National Power Corp. , Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.

The series of consultations came after the House Committee on Energy ordered the DOE to take a look at the nuclear power program. In 2008, efforts were made to draft a nuclear power framework which was stalled after the Fukushima incident in Japan in 2011.

 

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