MANILA – The Philippines is already serving as a de facto transhipment point for liquefied natural gas (LNG), Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Large tankers from LNG-exporting countries have been passing through the Subic Bay Freeport and have been offloading LNG to smaller vessels for delivery to a third country or customer, Cusi said in a recent interview with reporters in Taguig City.
The Philippines, he said, has long been acting as a transhipment point but the opportunity to make this possible has never been seized.
“We lack the infrastructure for this purpose. We missed the opportunity,” he said. “This time around, we should take advantage of this. Our region will be a net importer, with the US being one of the top three exporters of LNG. This will be a great business opportunity for the country. It will be confidence-building, job-creating, and it will promote economic growth.”
However, the energy chief admitted that this is a chicken and egg situation wherein the country needs to build the infrastructure before any business could begin and since the country does not have the necessary funds, it will need to find a partner or financier.
“Our problem is infrastructure. We cannot rely on our dreams alone. We have to build the facilities for this. We also need the knowledge on LNG trading and the technical know-how to operate LNG facilities,” Cusi said.
He nonetheless emphasized that this is one opportunity the country should seize.
“We are trying to address two objectives (here). One is the national energy security in preparation for the eventual Malampaya depletion and (second), we want to become the hub for the region to spur inclusive growth and progress,” Cusi said. (PNA)