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Energy push needs Supreme Court lift

We have to re-emphasize that everything goes together: Legal, executive, and judicial. We are pushing for the expansion of exploration areas. We are making it more attractive to investors

Maria Romero

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The Supreme Court (SC) should issue an immediate resolution that would expedite the expansion of local indigenous energy explorations to secure the country’s future energy supply, the Department of Energy (DoE) offered Thursday.

During a recent virtual forum by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, the DoE made the call to help address legal challenges on the expansion of upstream explorations to find the next gas field that can match Malampaya’s contribution to the nation.

“We have to re-emphasize that everything goes together: Legal, executive, and judicial. We are pushing for the expansion of exploration areas. We are making it more attractive to investors,” Energy Undersecretary Atty. Felix William B. Fuentebella underscored.

“We have to tell the judiciary that exploration is also important. The Constitution tells us to explore and develop our indigenous sources. We need to utilize all our resources as well. The way forward is to develop all options,” he added.

However, investor reluctance to perform exploration activities may be due to the pending case of the Malampaya consortium with the SC for the income taxes questioned by the Commission on Audit (CoA).

To recall, the DoE is mandated to spearhead the exploration that would boost indigenous energy resources as well as imported ones like liquefied natural gas (LNG).
It has the power to nominate areas for exploration within the country’s jurisdiction subject to the legislative body’s approval.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) President Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez pointed out that the country has many resources to develop but noted that “what is preventing us are legal aspects with our laws and regulations”.

Briguez added that the Malampaya has always been “cited as a model for shaping the future share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix and pioneered the country’s natural gas industry.”
“The Malampaya was responsible for providing a clean new power source to meet the rapidly increasing demand for electricity,” he said.

With Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) as an operator, Malampaya continues to power up to 20 percent of the country’s electricity needs for two decades.

It has generated over $12 billion worth of revenues remitted directly to the Philippine government, making it one of the country’s most successful public-private partnership.

Its forecast depletion by the year 2024, however, requires that the discovery and development of new energy sources must be performed as soon as possible.

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