Around 12 foreign companies have expressed interest to acquire the government’s banked gas from the Malampaya natural gas field in northwest Palawan, an official said Thursday.
“We want to monetize the banked gas so that we do not have to borrow. There are around a dozen serious ones for the banked gas,” state-run Philippine National Oil Co. president Reuben Lista told reporters.
PNOC earlier bared plans to trade the government’s banked gas in the international market to provide funding for the planned liquefied natural gas project in the country.
“Neda (National Economic Development Authority) will not likely approve if we borrow $2 billion. We have equity from the banked gas and that is the direction we are tying to adapt. We are looking for a partner willing to monetize my banked gas. There are 12 interested… all foreign,” Lista said.
The government earlier estimated that the planned integrated LNG facility would cost around $2 billion to construct. PNOC estimates the value of the banked gas around P11.9 billion.
Lista said PNOC could sell the banked gas below the price of natural gas sold to the Ilijan natural gas plant.
“I have to justify that. We are answerable to the government and money of the people that’s why we need CoA (Commission on Audit) and Neda,” he said.
PNOC earlier informed Congress that trading the banked gas outside of the country “is an offshoot of a realization that a domestic sale of the banked gas may pose some difficulty.”
The unused Malampaya natural gas, or banked gas, is stored in the Malampaya reservoir and is owned by PNOC. It was contracted, paid for by the government and reserved for future use. The banked gas, however, has accumulated in the past several years.
PNOC said with the impending depletion of the Malampaya gas field by 2024, “it becomes imperative that PNOC extract and fully recover the remaining purchase cost as well as optimize its potential value at the earliest time possible which should be before the end of 2024.”
PNOC was tasked to develop an integrated LNG facility but had not found an acceptable offer on a government-to-government basis, while a joint venture agreement also raised concerns from lawmakers.