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Phoenix says ‘no knowledge’ of banked gas purchase

PHOENIX Petroleum Philippines, Inc. has denied knowledge of “any manifest interest” in buying the state energy firm’s unused natural gas in the Malampaya field after the latter’s top official said the listed oil company made an offer.

“[Phoenix Petroleum] has no knowledge of any interest to purchase banked gases as of date of writing,” it said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

“Should there be any manifest interest and the board approves the same, we shall make the necessary disclosures at the appropriate time,” it added.

It made the disclosure after Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) President and Chief Executive Officer Reuben S. Lista was earlier quoted in a Manila Bulletin news report to have said that Phoenix Petroleum is offering to buy the banked gas.

Phoenix Petroleum, led by Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy, said the statement was “unconfirmed.”

Their statements come after Shell Petroleum N.V. announced on Thursday last week that it had signed an agreement with Malampaya Energy XP Pte. Ltd. for the sale of its 100% shareholding in Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEx).

Malampaya Energy XP is a unit of Udenna Corp., a holding firm also led by Mr. Uy.

SPEx holds a 45% operating interest in Service Contract (SC 38), which includes the gas producing Malampaya, the offshore northern Palawan field.

Shell said the base consideration for the sale is $380 million, with additional payments of up to $80 million between 2022 to 2024 “contingent on asset performance and commodity prices.”

The acquisition of SPEx’s stake is set to give Mr. Uy’s group 90% interest in the Malampaya gas-to-power project.

In Oct. 25, 2019, Udenna announced that its unit UC Malampaya Philippines Pte. Ltd. (now named UC38 LLC) had signed an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares of Chevron Malampaya LLC, which held 45% interest in the gas field.

Malampaya is operated by SPEx, with the third joint venture partner being PNOC Exploration Corp. with a 10% stake.

In a separate filing on Wednesday, Lopez-led First Gen Corp. said that it is still interested to buy PNOC’s banked gas.

“First Gen confirms its continuing interest to purchase the Malampaya banked gas of [PNOC], for use by the company’s gas-fired power plants,” the company said in a disclosure, adding that it had expressed interest in the unused reserves as early as 2016.

The company operates four gas-fired power plants in Batangas City, namely: the 1,000-megawatt (MW) Santa Rita, 500-MW San Lorenzo, 97-MW Avion, and 420-MW San Gabriel.

The Santa Rita, San Lorenzo, and San Gabriel plants deliver baseload supply, while Avion provides for peaking power in the Luzon grid.

On Wednesday, Phoenix shares at the local bourse inched up 0.15% or two centavos to finish at P13.10 apiece, while First Gen shares shed 0.34% or 10 centavos to close at P29.40 each. — Angelica Y. Yang

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