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PNOC-EC, DOE, private sector commit to tap indigenous renewable energy sources

The Department of Energy (DOE), and its corporate arm Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) as well as private sector energy stakeholders committed to tap indigenous sources to support the development of renewable energy and decrease the Philippines’ dependence on oil-producing nations.

In a statement, PNOC-EC president Rozzano Briguez expressed his commitment to utilize indigenous energy sources.

“Indigenous resource development and coal exploration can contribute to energy security,” Briguez said.

For her part, advocacy group Philippine Energy Independence Council (PEIC) founding member and director Amor Maclang emphasized that for decades, the Philippines has relied on global markets to meet the energy demands of the country.

“But if there’s one industry that could really benefit from innovation, it’s our energy industry,” Maclang said.

By tapping indigenous sources, the energy stakeholders said the country can support the development of renewable energy and decrease the need to depend on other oil-producing nations.

The state-owned firm PNOEC has conducted explorations on-shore, such as in Cagayan, Central Luzon, and Cotabato, as well as off-shore in northwest and southwest Palawan.

From 1976 to 2015, PNOC-EC has drilled 28 onshore wells all over the country.

“We want to be a leading exploration company by 2030, have a global reach, and contribute to the country’s growth,” Briguez said.

“The presidential mandate is to focus on exploration, mainly upstream,” he said.

For his part, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the Philippines has the highest renewable energy mix in Southeast Asia.

Currently, 30% of the country’s power needs are already supplied by natural gas from the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power project, which has been drawing natural gas from beneath the seafloor of the West Philippine Sea since 2001.

The Malampaya project also presents a viable model for the industry to innovate as the search for more indigenous sources continues.

AC Energy president and CEO Eric Francis explained how the market framework in the Philippines works to the industry’s advantage.

“We have an open, competitive market,” Francis said.

“There’s no need to rely on the government. Other markets like Vietnam and Indonesia need to depend on government-controlled corporations before the private sector can invest,” he said.

The DOE has also been aggressively pushing strategies to attract investors, including the major possibility of allowing 100% full foreign ownership for renewable energy.

“For years, investors have been shying away from the Philippines due to issues such as our electricity capacity, but our renewable resources are reliable and flexible sources have yet to be maximized,” Cusi said.

With this, PNOC-EC is positioning itself to be a partner of choice for investors.

Envisioning the Philippines’ energy future, Briguez detailed other significant steps such as increased production in at least two underground mines, the resolution of maritime disputes between China and the Philippines, and new oil and gas discoveries to augment the Malampaya reserves.

“There are more opportunities than challenges,” Briguez said.

“[Soon], we can get more data from sedimentary basins to make them more marketable for prospective investors to enter the market. But for now, we focus on upstream exploration of petroleum and coal. This is our way of serving our country well,” he said.

The Energy official said that COVID-19 has brought to light the vulnerabilities of the current energy systems, but it also presents an opportunity for the industry to make use of indigenous resources like solar, natural gas, and geothermal. —LDF, GMA News