DOE reviews 39 new energy projects

Published October 5, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently reviewing and processing at least 39 new projects that have applied for certificates of energy projects of national significance (CEPNS) so they can be extended streamlined processes in their permitting and licensing requirements.

Based on DOE data, the projects are mixed of propounded oil and gas as well as coal exploration activities, renewable energy installations, downstream oil and gas facilities such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals and oil distribution projects, and array of power plant developments.

Out of the 399 CEPNS applications, the energy department stipulated that 145 certificates had already been issued with combined investment commitments of P681.94 billion as of September 30 this year.

Of the total, it said that 139 applications had been denied, while 76 were returned or the project-sponsors had been notified on “non-compliance as to form and/or documentary requirements.”

Across sectors, the CEPNS applications in the upstream segment are for 20 oil/gas and coal exploration ventures; 106 RE projects; 9 for LNG import terminals and oil production and distribution facilities; 194 power plant installations; and 70 transmission expansion and reinforcement projects.

When classified as CEPNS projects, these ventures could be given the privilege of 30-day approval process on their permits as prescribed under Executive Order No. 30 that was issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.

One of the CEPNS-certified projects recently given go-signal to already advance to construction phase is the $300 million floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) import facility of First Gen Corporation and its partner-firm Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd.

The longer-term blueprint will be to transform that into an onshore import LNG terminal that will then command aggregate investment of $1.0 billion.

 The implementation and commercial operations of many CEPNS projects had been impeded by the coronavirus pandemic, hence, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi previously advised developers or sponsor-firms to submit their respective catch-up plans.

 Even power generating projects that are already at testing and commissioning phases, primarily the 1,336-megawatt Dinginin thermal power plant also moved commercial operations date to early part of next year because of movement restrictions that delayed work implementations at the facility.

Postponements of project constructions are still seen practicable at this point because of the slump in energy demand following the impact of the pandemic. In fact, that in turn held off for one to two years the supply tightening that could be experienced in the country’s power system.

New assessments set out by the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) portend that capacity addition in the electricity system may be deferred to 2024-2025 instead of the earlier projections of 2022-2023.

 One major task for the DOE at this stage though is ensuring that it has replacement for the gas fuel being sourced from the Malampaya field on or before 2024, as the service contract of the facility will already wind down in four years.