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Energy upbeat on gas pipeline

The Energy Department is optimistic the bidding and award for the 100-kilometer Batangas-Manila natural gas pipeline will push through during the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

“The ideal is within this administration it will be awarded. So we can complete the picture for a balanced energy mix with [renewable energy], coal and natural gas. Nat gas cannot move without the necessary infrastructure,” Energy officer-in-charge Zenaida Monsada told reporters.

Monsada said the previously approved Bat-Man natural gas pipeline design by the National Economic and Development Board-Investment Coordinating Council carried certain provisions which had to be clarified.

The energy official said the approved design included right-of-way concerns since the line was proposed to go all the way to Navotas from Sucat.

“There are also possible conflicts to the expansion of PNR [Philippine National  Railway],” she said.

Monsada said the Neda-ICC would have to review the Bat-Man project once the department submitted report on the study of Rebel Group International B.V., which was tasked by the Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines.

She said the Neda-ICC was scheduled to meet on October 14 to discuss the department’s concerns.

“Before that [meeting], we will submit. We will present the network of the pipeline,” she said.

PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said once the Neda-ICC approved the final concept, the project would go to the Neda board for final approval, possibly this year.

“What is being clarified is the demand and supply. ...it’s just some technical specs and information on the demand,” she said.

Monsada, meanwhile said that since the Bat-Man is a government project, the department did not want it to be delayed further.

“We don’t want it to be delayed but we want to be sure that once it’s tackled by the board, everything will go smoothly,” she said.

She said the department wanted to make sure that the Bat-Man pipeline “will not be come a white elephant.”

The  natural gas pipeline is estimated to cost between $100 million and $150 million.

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