Jun 30, 2019
SINGAPORE – Lopez-owned firm First Gen Corporation will be expanding the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) market not just in the Luzon grid, but all the way to end-users in Visayas and Mindanao.
In an interview on the sidelines of the CWC Asia Pacific LNG Summit here, First Gen Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Jon Russell indicated that the targeted market expansion could start with smaller end-users in the two other islands – those opting to shift fuel use of their electricity supply.
“What we’d like to do is take small-scale LNG and bring it to Visayas and Mindanao and allow smaller users, for example, smaller power plants. If they’re thinking of using diesel as a choice, instead of using diesel, let’s replace it with LNG,” he said.
The First Gen executive expounded “the small-scale is really exciting because up to this point, there’s only one island – out of 7,107; Luzon is the only island that has the benefit. Then we can have a cleaner, cheaper fuel – and that could be a basis for industrial customers to also use LNG.”
The transport of gas to Visayas and Mindanao as well as targeted expansion in Luzon, he explained, can be done two-pronged: One could be via road tankers; and through small ships to bring LNG to the two major islands.
Russell further noted the company will put up LNG distribution infrastructure support in the blueprinted $1.0-billion LNG import facility in Batangas. That project, currently being advanced via a partnership with Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., is under the corporate vehicle FGen LNG Corporation.
“In the terminal, we’re making provisions for two things. First is, road tankers that can take LNG in Luzon between Batangas and Manila. But then also, we’ll have a ship loading facility for smaller ships right on the site and then we would be able to transport LNG via smaller ships to the islands – to the Visayas and Mindanao,” he explained.
Russell emphasized that catering to smaller end-users could start with 1,000 cubic meter-vessels; while adding that “the actual logistics, we need to work on it – so that’s where we’re starting to focus on right now.”
Essentially, the company’s strategy is not just to satiate the gas needs of power plant facilities, but also to broaden gas technology’s market base to industrial end-users all over the country.
“The main thing and first is: we need to bring in LNG, but we’re looking at this (market expansion in other grids) because this could happen in parallel, and it’s really quite exciting,” Russell noted.
Executives of the Lopez firm were in Singapore last week and had been wrapped up in series of meetings with prospective LNG suppliers and other key players in the global gas sector.
“We’ve got a great deal of interest from suppliers here, they’re really keen to get involved in a new market. All of the big players in LNG we’ve been speaking to and they’re really keen on the Philippines,” Russell said.
The LNG terminal project of the First Gen-Tokyo Gas tandem is targeting to achieve final investment decision (FID) toward the end of this year to early 2020; and due to reach commercial operation in 2023.
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Jun 14, 2019
Beyond the massive scale on-grid power projects it is advancing from blueprints, First Gen Corporation of the Lopez group indicated that it will also be targeting the island-grids as expanded market for gas-fired power generation.
First Gen President and Chief Operating Officer Francis Giles B. Puno indicated they are not just looking at the existing 3,200-megawatt gas capacity of the country, but part of the plan are prospective market expansions, including the off-grid opportunities.
He said the “technology is already available” to bring gas as an alternative to off-grid domains and this could also be a perfect fit solution to the archipelagic state of the country.
Puno thus qualified that these market potentials, including other non-power users such as industries, had been part of the planning milieu they factored in for the company’s proposed 5.0 to 7.0 million tons per annum (mtpa) of onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal.
“The first step is building the terminal so we can make sure even our assets can have a life beyond Malampaya. And then other developers can have other option for gas-fired power resource,” which the First Gen executive specified will include the off-grid areas.
Modular gas technology deployment in off-grid domains is among the policies being advocated by the Department of Energy (DOE), not only for it to ensure cleaner energy solutions in these jurisdictions but also to bring down the cost of electricity for consumers in these areas which traditionally relied on more expensive oil-fired power facilities.
In the gas tech genre, it was noted that mobile solutions are now of commercial scale rollout – chiefly in power markets or countries emblazoned with ravishing islands like the Philippines and Indonesia.
Often, these mobile gas technology solutions are standardized, pre-tested modules that are easy to transport and install; and connection to the grid could also be done as fast as six months. Additionally, they could be operated with flexibility and high degree of reliability.
Puno opined it will just require an investment step of engaging the right partner so these island-grids could eventually be served with gas-generated electricity supply.
On a longer-term trajectory, First Gen is similarly looking at a gas pipeline installation as a way forward to widen the base of gas market in the Philippines; and that has also gotten the nod of its partner Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. which first studied prospects on the Batangas-Manila gas pipeline project roughly two decades ago.
“Eventually, the pipeline will be a natural extension of the business, first thing really is getting the terminal in there. Once we have the import capacity, we can use that gas for many things aside from just power, you can use it for transport and other industries,” Puno stressed.
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Jun 13, 2019
Our world relies heavily on coal, the black, carbon-rich combustible fossil fuel, for its electricity. According to the International Energy Agency, 38.4% of the electricity generated worldwide in 2016 came from coal.
In the Philippines, coal is an even more dominant power source. It accounted for 51,932 gigawatt hours (GWh) or roughly 52% of the 99,765 GWh of total power generated in 2018, according to recently released data from the Department of Energy (DoE).
But burning coal to produce electricity emits significant levels of greenhouse gases, chief among which is carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases, which also include chlorofluorocarbons, trap heat in the atmosphere, causing the planet to heat up. Since the industrial revolution, so much greenhouse gas has been pumped into the atmosphere that the planet has warmed considerably. Through human activity, the situation has aggravated, rising to alarming heights compared to pre-industrial levels.
A relentlessly warming planet means rising sea levels and more destructive and frequent storms, hurricanes, droughts and heat waves — all of which put our lives at risk.
The Philippines is among the most seriously impacted by this phenomenon, despite the fact that it does not emit as much greenhouse gases as, for example, the United States and India. A 2018 report by the multinational banking giant HSBC found that the country is the third most vulnerable to the risks posed by climate change.
Clearly, now is the time to shift to cleaner, more sustainable power generation, to embrace renewable sources of energy.
Needless to say, generating electricity from renewables — water, wind, sun, heat inside the Earth — helps mitigate climate change, as these sources produce practically no greenhouse gas emissions. They will also never be depleted, unlike fossil fuels.
For a long time, however, there’s been a reluctance among electricity producers, distributors and consumers to embrace renewables due to the belief that it’s too costly to generate electricity from them compared with coal and other fossil fuels.
That may have been true in the past. The reality today is that it’s getting cheaper to create electricity from renewables. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) noted in a 2018 report that the global weighted average levelized cost of electricity of utility-scale solar photovoltaics, which convert sunlight into electricity, had dropped by an astounding 73% since 2010 to $0.10 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for new projects commissioned in 2017.
That same year, the global weighted average cost of electricity from new hydropower projects was $0.05 per kWh. For onshore wind projects, it was $0.06 per kWh, while for bioenergy and geothermal projects the cost per kWh was $0.07.
In comparison, the fossil fuel-fired electricity generation costs for G20 countries ranged from $0.05 to $0.17 per kWh, according to a report published on <a href=”http://www.climatereality.org” target=”_blank”>climatereality.org</a>
In the Philippines, power is increasingly being produced from renewables. Based on the latest DoE data, renewables — geothermal, hydro, biomass, solar and wind — accounted for 23,326 GWh of total power generated. That’s a significant jump from 20,628 GWh 10 years ago.
By increasing the share of renewables in its power generation mix, the country will be better able to wean itself from its dependence on coal. (Around 75% of the country’s coal supply is sourced from other countries, notably Indonesia.)
Renewables, however, are still quite far from becoming many countries’ sole source of electricity. For one, some of them are intermittent, which means that they’re not continuously available, depending on certain environmental conditions. Producing energy from the sun, for instance, is hindered when it’s nighttime or when the sky is cloudy.
One solution has been to store the energy generated from renewables in batteries, but how to do it efficiently and cheaply on a large scale remains elusive.
While the quest to figure that out is ongoing, natural gas — heralded as the “bridge fuel” between our current coal dependence and a totally renewable future — is gaining traction.
Though a fossil fuel, this gas found underground burns much cleaner than coal, emitting as much as 60% less carbon dioxide. What’s more, it is affordable. An examination of publicly available data from Manila Electric Co. or Meralco, the only power distributor in Metro Manila, reveals that since 2016, the costs of generating power from natural gas have consistently been lower than those from coal.
In addition, natural gas plants, compared with coal plants, are more flexible and efficient. They can quickly adjust the electricity they provide, ramping up production when needed. And they can generate a large amount of electricity from a relatively small amount of fuel, helping keep their generation costs affordable and producing less emissions in the process.
Natural gas plants can also start up quickly and reach full load in a short period of time. One of the handful of natural gas plants operating in the Philippines, the Avion Open-Cycle Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant, owned by First Gen Corporation, can reach its full capacity in less than 15 minutes, a far cry from the roughly 11 hours it takes a typical coal plant to do the same.
Last year, 21,334 GWh of power was generated from natural gas in the country, higher than 19,576 GWh from a decade ago, according to DoE data. This is a welcome development.
There’s a compelling complementarity between natural gas and renewables. When there’s not enough power from renewables, natural gas plants can pick up the slack. Together, these sources of energy help ensure uninterrupted power supply, which is crucial to achieving economic prosperity.
Moving toward a renewable future is imperative, especially as the effects of climate change continue to worsen. And with the help of natural gas, it’s only a matter of time until that future becomes the present.
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The Philippines’ stellar economic growth has been the talk of the world’s investors and financial leaders for the past several years. As the country powers through insurmountable odds — growing at a solid rate of 6.2% in 2018 despite mounting inflation, interest rates, and a depreciating peso— it remains to be seen whether such growth can be sustainable in the long term.
Many challenges await the country’s economic future, from tensions in global trade, talks of the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates, to a worldwide economic downtrend. One such risk involves the Philippines’ current dependence on coal-fired power plants for energy.
As power consumption continues to rise on pace with economic expansion, relying too much on coal in the long-term puts the Philippines subject to its fluctuating prices and over-dependence on a single fuel source. In addition to its negative effects on the environment and to health, it is clear that a more sustainable source of energy is needed to power the country’s future development.
A cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative that can even help the economy in the long-term is natural gas. Here’s how.
Many developed nations are shifting to natural gas
The demand for natural gas has been steadily growing across the globe. Currently, it supplies 22% of the energy used worldwide, making up nearly a quarter of electricity generation in countries like the United States, China, and the Middle East. In the US, natural gas has taken the place of coal in terms of power production. Energy produced by coal has dropped by 44% (866 terawatt-hours [TWh]) compared to natural gas (up 45%, or 400 TWh).
For many countries, natural gas is simply cheaper. Globally, the price of electricity has been rising over the past few years, in line with coal prices rising to as much as $120 per metric ton in 2018.
In fact, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in a report in 2017 that the unpredictability of the coal market will drive higher electricity prices and will threaten the industrial strategy of the Philippines.
“Excessive reliance on imported coal is one of the main reasons the Philippines has the highest electricity prices in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region,” Sarah Ahmed, an IEEFA energy finance analyst, said.
In the Philippines, the generation charge of natural gas has been cheaper than oil and coal plants contracted with Meralco over the past few years.
The country has plenty of reasons to reduce its reliance on coal. In a recent report, the IEEFA said that rapidly declining costs and technological advances in renewable energy, liquefied natural gas (LNG), energy efficiency, and storage are creating an “enormous opportunity” for greater use of cheaper electricity-generation domestic alternatives to imported coal and diesel in the Philippines.
Shifting to natural gas allows the Philippines to save money, especially as the government continues to promote infrastructure development in areas outside Metro Manila.
Natural gas is readily available
First Gen Corporation, which owns four of the five commercially active natural gas plants in the country, currently sources its natural gas from the country’s Malampaya Gas Field. With proven reserves of about 2.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 85 million barrels of condensate, located some 3,000 meters below sea level, according to data from the Department of Energy, the Malampaya Gas Field is the biggest commercial gas discovery in the Philippines to date. In fact, the country has been using natural gas for almost 20 years, dating back to 2001.
The Malampaya gas field produces 146 billion cubic feet of gas per year. First Gen’s four natural gas-fired power plants: the 1000-MW Santa Rita, the 500-MW San Lorenzo, as well as the 97-MW Avion peaking and 420-MW San Gabriel power plants have added significantly to First Gen’s portfolio of power assets since their commercial operations.
Globally, gas is also very abundant and is traded around the world in the form of LNG. The Philippines can also gain access to LNG once the infrastructure to receive it and turn it back to gas is developed.
Making the transition to natural gas will not only address the country’s rising energy needs but also reduce its dependence on coal.
Natural gas is reliable
Compared to coal-fired power plants, natural gas plants take no time at all to start up and generate electricity. Avion, one of First Gen’s gas plants, can typically reach full load up to 50 times faster than coal-fired power plants.
This efficiency is crucial in the near future, especially when emerging cities like Cebu or Clark drastically increase the country’s overall power consumption. Moreover, the country aims to increase its dependence on Renewable Energy, which while clean and increasingly competitive, can sometimes be intermittent. Given that battery storage is still ways away, power supply would be impacted by times that RE sources are intermittent—for instance, solar panels wouldn’t generate electricity when there isn’t enough sunlight. The speed and flexibility of natural gas enable it to adjust its output and cater to the needed demand when these occurrences of intermittency happen.
Having a stable power supply that can be relied on at a moment’s notice can contribute significantly to the growth of not only these emerging cities, but the whole country as well.
Burning natural gas emits far less carbon than oil or coal
The Union of Concerned Scientists, which works with more than 20,000 scientists and technical experts across the United States, including: physicists, ecologists, engineers, public health professionals, economists, and energy analysts, had this to say about natural gas on its website: “Natural gas emits 50 to 60% less carbon dioxide when combusted in a new, efficient natural gas power plant compared with emissions from a typical new coal plant.”
Because it is the cleanest among the fossil fuels, natural gas can play a crucial role in lowering the Philippines’ carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the major greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, which in turn causes more frequent natural disasters like super typhoons and drought, as well as causing sea levels to rise.
The enormous economic impact of climate change has already wreaked havoc in the Philippines in the form of super typhoons like Ondoy and Yolanda. These catastrophic typhoons have caused billions of pesos worth of damages in the country, and they are likely to continue if climate change isn’t mitigated.
In 2018, First Gen’s gas plants helped avoid 8 million tons of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to removing 1.7 million cars from the road in terms of avoided emissions, making natural gas the more sustainable energy source for the future.
Natural gas is better for your health
Hammering home why natural gas is better than other more conventional sources of energy, it also produces negligible amounts of sulfur, mercury, and particulates when burned. Citing data from the U.S. government, the Union of Concerned Scientists noted that for every 10,000 U.S. homes powered with natural gas instead of coal, an estimated 1,900 tons of NOx, 3,900 tons of SO2, and 5,200 tons of particulates are avoided in emissions each year.
Reductions in these emissions translate into public health benefits, as these pollutants have been linked with problems such as asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, and heart disease.
In the Philippines, where one of the biggest drivers of economic growth is the abundance of skilled human workers, the importance of a healthy population cannot be overstated. Two of the leading causes of death in the country are heart and lung diseases. Lowering the emissions of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere may translate to a population that lives longer and adds more towards the country’s development.
Contributing to safer air, as well as being a cheaper, cleaner, and a more reliable source of energy, natural gas has the potential to change the Philippines into a more progressive and more developed nation. Clearly, switching to natural gas is the next step in the country’s path towards progress.
Originally published by:
Jun 04, 2019
Stocks fell Tuesday to end a five-day advance on bargain-hunting push by investors, as global trade tensions continued to weigh on markets.
The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, lost 139 points, or 1.7 percent, to close at 7,945.37 as all six sub-sectors declined. Despite Tuesday’s loss, the bellwether was still up 6.4 percent since the start of the year.
The broader all-share index went down 55 points, or 1.1 percent, to settle at 4,883.22 on a value turnover of P10.6 billion. Losers outnumbered gainers, 113 to 84, while 40 issues were unchanged.
Seven of the 20 most active stocks ended in the green, led by Phinma Energy Corp. which climbed 3.8 percent to P2.47 and First Gen Corp. which rose 2.2 percent to P23.50.
Meanwhile, most Asian stocks also traded lower Tuesday. Fears of an economic slowdown have mounted in recent days as US President Donald Trump threatened Mexico with tariffs, adding to anxieties over the US-China trade war, which shows no signs of a resolution.
The market’s “assumption that the slowing global economy would recover later this year, bolstered by the [strong] US economy, has been shaken by the spread of trade frictions to other countries such as Mexico”, Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.
Trump followed up his threats against Mexico last week with an announcement that Washington would withdraw preferential trade treatment to India, starting Wednesday, in a bid to press New Delhi to increase market access to US goods.
The US ISM manufacturing index released on Monday—and compiled prior to the recent tariff threats—highlights “the importance of doing business with Mexico”, Oanda senior market analyst Edward Moya said.
“Respondents noted they are shifting business from China to Mexico, and that ongoing tariffs are providing multiple strains in doing business,” Moya said.
Weak manufacturing reports from Britain and the United States prompted investors to seek safe-haven assets such as the yen, putting pressure on Tokyo’s main index.
Less than 30 minutes after the opening bell, the Nikkei dipped into negative territory, but later rose to end flat.
Hong Kong slipped 0.6 percent while Shanghai fell one percent. Taipei lost 0.7 percent and Seoul was flat. But Singapore edged up 0.3 percent while Sydney made modest gains of 0.2 percent.
European markets dipped at the start of trading on Tuesday, with London down 0.6 percent while Frankfurt and Paris retreated 0.7 percent.
US tech giants sank Monday on reports that Washington planned to intensify its antitrust scrutiny of the sector.
The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission had agreed to coordinate antitrust enforcement over tech companies, with Justice taking the lead on Google and the FTC handling Facebook and some aspects of Amazon.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished 1.6 percent lower, with Facebook plunging 7.5 percent and Google parent Alphabet sliding 6.1 percent.
But trade tensions remained the dominant issue on investors’ minds, extending a decline in oil prices.
Since Trump fired the first shot, China and the US have deployed tit-for-tat tariffs on two-way trade worth hundreds of billions of dollars. With AFP
The dispute has worsened in recent weeks, with the US blacklisting Chinese tech giant Huawei over national security concerns, and Beijing threatening to unveil its own list of “unreliable” foreign companies.
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