By Myrna M. Velasco
Shell Philippines has acquired a power company from the Zamora group, which it targets to use as a corporate vehicle for targeted electricity trading and retailing in the restructured Philippine power sector.
According to a highly placed source privy to the matter, Shell has acquired Manta Energy, Inc., which used to be the retail and marketing arm of Zamora-owned Emerging Power, Inc.
No details had been provided on the terms of the asset acquisition, as well as on the value of the transaction and financial closing.
It has been divulged that Shell’s acquisition of Manta Energy is a strategic move on its planned foray as retail electricity supplier (RES) under the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) policy of the deregulated power market.
The local subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch firm has excess capacity from power generating capacity that has been supplying the electricity requirements of its Tabangao refinery in Batangas; and that’s what it has been targeting to sell once it secures its RES license.
It has to be noted that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has just recently resumed the processing of RES licenses – and that is seen as a good opening also for Shell to become part of the chunk of the market that will be supplying to contestable customers or those end-users that can already exercise power of choice in contracting for their electricity needs.
In 2017, Shell has amended its articles of incorporation to widen the base of its operations, including target to register as a trading participant in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.
Beyond the capacity that it would be able to sell from excess capacity at its refinery, Shell Philippines also had previous plans to venture into renewable energy (RE) installations – although this is a space that it is still experimenting on at its own facilities for now.
The Netherlands-headquartered parent firm of Shell had previously unveiled targets of US$1.0-billion capital outlay yearly for planned RE ventures under its “new energies” business segment.
Principally, the “new energies” investment terrain is also one of the longer-term focus that its Philippine operations would be pushing ahead – primarily for prospects in RE technologies such as solar and wind farm developments or hydropower, including those in the off-grid areas.
The targeted clean energy investments will complement the multinational energy giant’s hydrocarbons business, which is dominated by gas.
Such investment trajectory, it was noted, would be part of the firm’s strategy to keep pace with the goal of the Paris climate change pact on lowering carbon emissions of energy systems.