Less than a week after Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy secured control of the Malampaya gas-to-power project, Phoenix Petroleum — a firm under his Udenna Group — is said to be offering to buy the “banked gas” of government-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) currently valued between Php33 billion and Php38 billion.
But its not only Phoenix that’s interested, according to PNOC President and CEO Reuben Lista. Based on a Manila Bulletin report, other potential contenders include the Lopezes’ First Gen Corporation and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), another state-owned firm.
First Gen owns four of the country’s five natural gas plants feeding on fuel from Malampaya, while PSALM is the owner of the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan gas plant.
Lista said PNOC is evaluating the best offer for the banked gas’ purchase. However, he also said that he has not specified any timeframe on when the gas would be extracted from the field and eventually turned over to the successful buyer.
Officials from PNOC and the Department of Energy have stipulated previously that the “banked gas” can be used as equity if the government aims to increase its ownership in Malampaya’s Service Contract (SC) 38. The government, through PNOC, owns ten percent of SC38.
PNOC attempted to sell the “banked gas” in September 2017, but the offers it received have been lower than the sale price it announced. A negotiated sale was done with First Gen in 2018, but it also did not prosper also due to pricing concerns.
The “banked gas” was originally contracted for Ilijan, but it had “dispatch constraints” in the first years of operations from 2001 to 2004. The unused commodity was then logged as “stored fuel in the financial books of the National Power Corporation.