Bill to develop PHL natural gas industry eyed

Senator Win Gatchalian is looking to craft comprehensive legislation to develop the local natural gas industry as the country braces for the impending end of the Malampaya Gas-to-Power Project.

Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, explained that the Malampaya project currently supplies fuel to five natural gas plants with a total installed capacity of 3,211 MW. This amounts to 21.33% of the installed capacity of the Luzon grid and almost 15% of the country’s total installed capacity. However, the Malampaya franchise is set to expire in 2024.

“Natural gas plays an essential role in the Philippine energy mix. As early as now, we need to start getting plans in motion to develop alternative sources of natural gas. Inaction could result in an unstable Luzon energy supply in the medium and long terms,” said Gatchalian.

With this in mind, the committee held a public hearing earlier this week on the Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development Act (Senate Bill 765) filed by Senator Francis Escudero. In covering the downstream part of the industry, the bill focuses on the transmission, distribution, and commercial supply of natural gas.

Gatchalian said the committee would work to broaden the coverage of the bill to cover the midstream part of the industry, touching on topics such as liquified natural gas (LNG) hubs, floating storage, and regasification units, among others. This would strengthen the country’s capacity to make use of LNG sourced from other countries that enjoy bountiful supplies of the fuel.

“The best way to develop the potential of natural gas is to craft a strong legal framework that will touch on all important points of the industry as a whole,” he said. SENATE