By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – A liquefied natural gas refinery complex worth roughly P163 billion, the largest single investment ever in the history of Muslim Mindanao region, will soon rise in Sulu.
The groundbreaking rite for the natural gas refinery complex was the highlight of festivities marking the 39th founding anniversary celebration on Oct. 22 of the municipality of Lugus.
“This is phenomenal and we welcome it as a great opportunity to enhance lives in Sulu, particularly in our town,” said town Mayor Hadar Hajiri, who is also the president and chief executive officer of the Hadar and Medzar Oil and Gas Corp. (HMOGC).
The HMOGC is the local partner of the Energy World International Ltd. (EWIL), a British company engaged in global energy development, which bankrolls the just-launched project with US$3.2 billion (equivalent to some P163-billion), according to Dr. Amildasa Annil.
Sulu Vice Governor Sakur Tan II, Mayor Hajiri, and Energy World International Ltd. (EWIL) Executive Director Graham Elliot led the groundbreaking rites at Barangay Parian Kayawan, one of the island villages in Lugus town which were found to have huge natural oil and gas deposits believed linked to the petroleum-rich Brunei Darussalam, Annil said.
The host village is tagged as Lugus Island Petroleum Park (LIPP) complex earmarked to have a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production and export terminal, a seaport, an airport, an industrial precinct, a residential area, and a power generation plant under an enabling memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The MoU was signed last Sept. 16 in Zamboanga City by Mayor Hajiri and Elliot in symbolic ceremony witnessed by Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Manny Piñol and Western Mindanao Command (WMC) head Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Annil said.
At Tuesday’s rites, Vice Gov. Tan II, representing his father–Gov. Sakur Tan Sr., pledged the provincial government’s “all-out support” for the project, describing it as a “highly laudable venture offering potentials for more energy supply and employment opportunities in Sulu and other parts of the country.”
Elliot acknowledged the “manifest support” of the provincial government and other civil and military authorities in the planning and implementation of the project, which he said could provide employment for thousands of locals and help Sulu and other parts of Mindanao to “attain ample energy supply.”
Gen. Sobejana, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony, said the project can tremendously uplift Sulu people’s socio-economic wellbeing and boost the military campaign for stable security in Mindanao.
Tuesday’s rite was also attended Army Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., head of Task Force Sulu, and regional Transportation Minister Dickson Hermoso, representing Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Chief Minister Ebrahim, who had earlier approved the project, Annil said.