House panel OKs bill to fully develop PH downstream natural gas industry

The House Committee on Energy on Friday, July 16 approved a bill that seeks to fully develop the Philippine downstream natural gas industry and consolidate all laws relating to the transmission, distribution and the supply of natural gas.

Natural gas Malampaya

Authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco House Bill 3031 has been recommended for substitution to give way for the consolidation of existing laws on natural gas.

A technical working group chaired by Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter “Sharky” Palma II called for the passage of the measure even as it assured Lower House members that all provisions of the measure have been thoroughly discussed in three meetings the TWG conducted.

In the explanatory note of HB 3031, Velasco noted that the natural gas industry is still a relatively young industry.

“It is vital that we introduce a proper legislative framework that would provide favorable conditions towards a healthy natural gas industry in the country. This would then in turn lead towards rapid economic development, while respectfully practicing sustainable development towards a brighter future,” the House leader said.

Velasco, former chairman of the energy panel, explained that the bill seeks to provide a framework for the development of the Downstream Natural Gas Industry and its transition from an emerging to a mature industry status and competitive natural gas market, as well as define the responsibilities of various government agencies and private entities in furtherance of this national goal.

Under the bill the State would ensure safe, secure, reliable, transparent, competitive, and environmentally responsible operation of the Philippine Downstream Natural Gas Industry (PDNGI) value chain.

As defined in the bill, natural gas refers to “gas obtained from boreholes and wells consisting primarily of a mixture of methane, ethane, propane and butane with small amounts of heavier hydrocarbons and some impurities, consistent with the definition provided in the Philippine National Standard (PNS) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

All activities of the Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and other concerned government agencies relevant to the development and regulation of the PDNGI would be in accordance with the proposed “Philippine Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development Act.