DoE worried about agency’s dual role as nuclear regulator, industry promoter

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THE Department of Energy (DoE) said the nuclear power regulatory regime must resolve potential issues regarding the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s (PNRI’s) dual role in regulating and developing the industry.

“Right now, the PNRI is both the regulator and promoter of nuclear power and that’s a no-no. You cannot be promoting something and saying that you are regulating it at the same time. These are the kind of things that we need to address,” Energy (DoE) Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said in a briefing. 

Mr. Lotilla added that the government must also reassure communities hosting nuclear facilities.

“We would have to strengthen the trust and confidence of people in the ability of government to regulate safely and to (comply with) necessary standards,” he said.

Mr. Lotilla said the total cost of going nuclear must be considered, and while nuclear power has the potential to deliver low-cost power, any analysis of life cycle cost must also incorporate the size of the upfront investment as well as costs like waste disposal and unexpected maintenance.

He proposed that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) consider collective standards for nuclear power.

“If Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are thinking of putting up nuclear power plants, why can’t ASEAN look at this as a region and then leverage collective resources to put up a common regulatory and training system, and a common disaster response system,” he added.

Mr. Lotilla said the DoE will seek to reduce Philippine dependence on imported energy by developing  indigenous power resources. He said 56.8% of power demand is serviced by imported fuel.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lotilla said that he will direct the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) to come to a determination on

Whether MEXP Holding Pte. Ltd (MEXP) can sell its operating stake in the Malampaya gas-to-power project.

“It would be premature for me to speak on this particular subject,” he added.

On July 29, Prime Infrastructure Capital said that its subsidiary, Prime Exploration Pte. Ltd., signed an agreement to acquire MEXP from a subsidiary of Udenna Corp.

MEXP has signed a deal to purchase Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEx), but the government, through PNOC-EC withheld its consent on the sale of the 45% interest held by SPEx in Malampaya to MEXP.

PNOC-EC has a 10% stake in the Malampaya gas-to-power project and must give its consent before partners in the consortium can divest from the gas field venture. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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