MANILA, Philippines – The solid pace of the country’s economic growth is at risk from the critical energy supply, a global energy expert said in a forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
“The Philippines….it is going to be the powerhouse in Southeast Asia but high growth makes energy supply a problem,” said Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer awardee during the AmCham forum titled, “Quest for Energy Security: Perspectives for 2030 and Beyond – A Focus on the Asean Region.”
He said to ensure timely investment, the Philippines needs to develop other sources of energy such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), renewable and indigenous sources instead of just relying on coal.
“Don’t put all your bets in one horse,” Yergin said.
The Philippine economy grew 6.8 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent in 2013. This year, the government is eyeing a growth of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent.
Diversification, Yergin said, would balance the reliance on coal.
He said the United States will have a steady supply of LNG with the development of the sector growing fast because of global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell.
“Shell gas has been around a long time and can be done safely…The US is on track to be the world’s biggest exporter of LNG and Asia will be a big recipient of that,” he said.
Thus, he said the Philippines needs to diversify its power supply.
However, Yergin said the Philippines’ reliance on imported energy will continue unless new gas fields are discovered from 2024.
“Further supply of natural gas may come from imports,” he said.
He also urged the Philippines to include the emerging sector of liquefied natural gas in its energy policies.
“You have 3,000 megawatts of natural gas fired plants and the main field is expected to go down…Gas should be part of your energy mix. The Philippines should be part of the Asean LNG market,” Yergin said.
Yergin also said the future of the global energy sector is in for exciting times especially with the entry of electric storage projects.
LNG, on the other hand, is natural gas that has been converted into liquid for ease of storage or transport.
With the expected depletion of gas at the Malampaya by 2024, numerous players have already expressed interest in developing LNG terminals around the country.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., for instance, wants to build an LNG regasification terminal beside its refinery in Batangas with an estimated cost of $1 billion while First Gen Corp., the power generation company of the Lopez Group, is also aiming to build the first LNG terminal in the country near its existing natural gas power plant in Batangas.