The country’s power situation is now on the line as reports of Udenna Corporation’s plans of selling its controlling stakes in the Malampaya gas-to-power projects have surfaced, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said.
“With the expiration of Malampaya’s service contract in 2024, the depletion of the remaining reserves in the gas field by 2027, and now the possible sale of participating interests of Udenna in the country’s most important energy source — there’s so much uncertainty ahead of us insofar as our energy security is concerned. Are we looking at rotational brownouts again,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
Gatchalian, along with other Senators, have questioned Udenna’s acquisition of Chevron’s 45% stake and the 45% stake bought from Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) in Malampaya.
Eventually, the Senate Committee on Energy – chaired by Gatchalian – recommended the filing of charges against outgoing Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi. PNOC-Exploration Corporation, which owns ten percent of Malampaya, had also blocked the Shell-Udenna deal, though SPEX said the deal remains on.
“I have proven myself right after all, over the apparent financial incapacity of Udenna’s subsidiaries that acquired the 45% stake of Chevron Philippines, Ltd. and 45% stake of [SPEX],” Gatchalian said.
Malampaya is the country’s only major source of indigenous fuel and accounts for 30% of Luzon’s power needs and around 20% of the country’s power generation mix.
“Lubhang nakababahala ito. Ang Malampaya ang kaisa-isang pinagkukunan natin ng natural gas sa bansa. Lumabas sa imbestigasyon ng Senado na baon sa utang ang nagmamay-ari ng Udenna bukod pa sa walang technical expertise sa ganitong klase ng negosyo. Nasabi ko na noon pa na kung mapapasakamay lang ng hindi maayos na kumpanya ang Malampaya, tayong lahat ang magiging dehado dito,” Gatchalian said.
Udenna, owned by Davao businessman Dennis Uy, bought Chevron’s 45% stake in the Malampaya in March 2020, and SPEX’s 45% share in May 2021. According to reports, Enrique Razon’s Prime Infra is among the preferred bidders for Udenna’s stakes. Uy was one of outgoing Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s major financiers in the 2016 elections.