Connecting the Philippines’s oil and power grids with the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-countries might take awhile.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is still looking into the pros and cons of having the Philippines linked with the rest of the Asean through the Asean Power Grid (APG) and Trans-Asian Gas Pipeline (TAGP).
“Our participation in the Asean Power Grid is contingent on Malaysia’s decision. We will have to wait for the Malaysian government to make those decisions,” said Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, adding that the Philippines and Malaysia are close with each other.
Among themselves, Almendras said the APG is already in place as Laos is exporting electricity to Thailand and Vietnam.
“We will not join the APG and TAGP initiative just [for the sake of] joining. It must provide a viable option for us. We’re going to spend resources just to build this infrastructure, then it must be viable,” he said.
Almendras said the TAGP, on the other hand, complements the country’s existing gas pipeline in the Malampaya gas platform in northwest Palawan to Shell’s refinery in Tabangao, Batangas.
“With our demand for hydrocarbons, we need to explore as many potential sources of fuel. Hydrocarbon supply is a finite resource. We need to look at other options. We can’t decide 10 years before that uneventful time when hydrocarbon price will be so high. We know we should start looking at the options now,” Almendras said.
During the Arroyo administration, the DOE, under then-Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, junked proposals to connect to the TAGP due to the huge amount of money needed to put up the pipeline.
“We can’t directly connect to the TAGP since the country has no money,” Lotilla then told reporters. He said most of these developments might not be seen in the country unlike in other Asean countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
“The Brunei to Philippines pipeline was estimated to cost more or less $3 billion to cover for construction of close 1,000-kilometers pipeline. And connecting through Brunei was deemed as the feasible approach since it was the nearest country to the Philippines,” Lotilla said.