DOE Awarding 25 Coal Contracts Soon - INQ

The Department of Energy is considering awarding to investors all the 25 contract proposals it received for the exploration and development of 18 prospective coal areas in the country, according to a senior government official.
“We intend to award contracts to all the areas that those companies had applied for,” said Energy Undersecretary Ramon Allan Oca.

The DOE received the 25 contract proposals from at least 13 companies under the fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) 2009 for coal, wherein a total of 30 coal contracts were offered between May and June.

Oca said in an interview that the DOE was planning to start awarding the contracts this month or in September.

“We have made the evaluations and we are reviewing and finalizing these. We will submit (the evaluations) to Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes for final screening and evaluation,” Oca added.

Oca earlier said the proposals for the coal block systems that were offered under PECR 2009 were in Cebu, Quezon, Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay, Panganiban, Catanduanes, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

PECR is a public bidding round aimed at encouraging companies to invest in the country’s energy sector. These contracting rounds, which showcase the country’s potential areas for exploration and development, are expected to boost investments in this sector and help cut costly oil imports as well.

According to Oca, the DOE wants to finish the evaluations and awarding as soon as possible as they are already preparing for the petroleum contracting round, which may be launched within the next two months.

Initially, the DOE is eyeing to offer contracts for the exploration, development and production of six petroleum areas in offshore Palawan and Mindanao.

He said the department was still reviewing the government’s baseline data to check whether these were protected areas and if they could really be offered to prospective investors.

In the meantime, Oca disclosed that the government body was targeting to bid out contracts covering three or four areas for geothermal exploration, development and direct utilization for power generation and other geothermal applications.

“That’s our target, but nothing is definite yet. We have to coordinate with the newly formed bureau for renewable energy,” Oca said.

Oca said geothermal projects might be handled by the Renewable Energy Management Bureau, which was put up by the DOE, following the signing of the implementing rules and regulations governing the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 in May 2009.

By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:44:00 08/09/2009