* Companies have signed preliminary agreement
* First Gen operates 4 of country’s 5 gas-fired power plants
* Other firms also looking to build nation’s 1st LNG import hub
MANILA/TOKYO, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Philippine power company First Gen Corp and Tokyo Gas Co on Wednesday said they had signed a preliminary agreement to jointly develop a liquefied natural gas import terminal project in the Philippines.
Tokyo Gas will take a 20-percent interest in the project, which will be located in First Gen’s LNG complex in Batangas province, south of the capital Manila, the Philippine company said. No further financial details were disclosed.
First Gen operates four of the country’s five gas-fired power plants, with total capacity of about 2,000 megawatts, all of them in Batangas.
The Philippines is expected to start importing LNG to feed its gas-fired power plants as domestic gas supply from its Malampaya field is set to run out in 2024.
State-owned Philippine National Oil Co (PNOC) was seeking a joint-venture partner to build and run an LNG hub in Batangas Bay, but has twice postponed a meeting with potential investors, the last one previously scheduled for Tuesday.
First Gen said in August that PNOC had rejected its unsolicited proposal to PNOC to be part of First Gen’s LNG terminal project in Batangas.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier told Reuters that three different groups - including the First Gen-Tokyo Gas team - had been shortlisted to build and operate the Southeast Asian country’s first LNG import terminal.
China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is also in the running. CNOOC in June signed an agreement to develop an LNG terminal project in the Philippines with fuel retailer Phoenix Petroleum, owned by local businessman Dennis Uy who helped fund President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 election campaign. (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. in MANILA and Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO; Editing by Joseph Radford)