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PNOC shelves Isabela coal mine project

The PNOC Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) will put in the backburner its $95 million coal mine-mouth power plant project in Isabela province due to some right of way problems. PNOC president Eduardo Manalac said his office has decided to shelve its plans to put up a coal mine-mouth power plant as they continue to encounter significant opposition from the barangays to be affected by the project. The project, which is part of PNOC EC's work commitment with the Department of Energy (DOE) under Coal Operating Contract (COC) No. 122, covers portions of the municipalities of Benito Soliven and Naguilian and the City of Cauayan. After almost 10 years since the COC was awarded in 1997, social acceptability remains to be a major challenge for the project. Manalac said despite the conduct of extensive information, education and communication campaigns in the communities to be affected by the project over the past three years, a significant segment of the local communities continues to express strong opposition against the project. The project involves putting up a 50-MW power plant that will utilize the low-rank coal in the province. Previous studies conducted by PNOC-EC confirmed the presence of 28.3 million metric tons of in-situ lignite coal in the area which is more than enough to fuel the power plant for 25 years and address the growing power requirements of Isabela. PNOC-EC has applied for an Environmental Compliance Certificate with the DENR as early as 2003 and extensive studies were already completed that would have addressed the environmental and social impacts of the project. Manalac said although some barangays in the project area have expressed support for the project, still a significant number remains strongly against it. "As a matter of business policy, PNOC-EC will only implement projects that are supported and acceptable by the local communities", Manalac said. Manalac also said while PNOC-EC is engaged in oil, gas and coal exploration and production, PNOC, through its other subsidiaries, is also actively pursuing the development of renewable and alternative sources of energy, such as geothermal, biofuels, wind and solar energy. - GMANews.TV
Tags: coal, power, plant, pnoc, energy