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House committee approves downstream natural gas bill

THE House energy committee has approved a bill that sets the regulatory framework for the shipment and distribution of imported natural gas.

At a hearing Tuesday, the committee approved the draft substitute bill replacing House Bill No. 3031 or the proposed Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development Act.

The panel’s chairman, Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel M. Arroyo said the approval is subject to further work by a technical working group (TWG), which will redraft parts of the bill.

“We will have a separate TWG for this or we will prepare to put this to the floor for the period of amendments,” Mr. Arroyo said, adding this needs to be discussed not only by the committee but also by other House legislators.

If passed, the bill hopes to develop the downstream portion of the sector to “mature industry status” with the resulting gas market competitive.

According to the bill’s explanatory note, the Philippines still lacks a “clear, comprehensive, and integrated legislative framework” to sustain the natural gas sector’s development.

Members of the committee said they will continue to work on parts of the bill — Section 38, 39, and 40 — before it is sent on for discussion by the plenary.

Section 38 and 39 outlines administrative and criminal and penalties for violators. Section 40 covers permit requirements for operators of natural gas facilities. — Gillian M. Cortez

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