Philippine Department of Mines and Energy?
by Fernando Penarroyo - August 30, 2022
Every time there is a change in administration, the mineral industry always anticipate with bated breath the identity of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (“DENR”) secretary. The presidential appointee is scrutinized whether he or she is either sympathetic to the mining industry or a staunch environmental advocate. This can be attributed to the ambiguous nature and function of the DENR. Under the present setup of the DENR, it is mandated to promote investments in the minerals industry through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and at the same time, enforce national environmental laws through the Environmental Management Bureau. In many jurisdictions, the environment protection agency is totally independent from the administrative body regulating extractive industries. Perhaps it is now high time for Philippine legislators to remove the mining regulation function from the DENR and attach it to a super regulatory body called the Department of Mines and Energy.
A reinvigorated Department of Mines and Energy (“Department”) will serve as the foundation for regulating, promoting, and developing Philippine resource-based industries, which represent one main prospect for economic growth. However, this new Department will certainly face challenges, including multiple regulations, inter-institutional conflicts, dearth in the capacity of regulators, and the threat of political interference.
The Department should be tasked to provide clear policy direction for the extractive sector and deliver improved industry regulations through a strengthened institutional capacity. It should also introduce reforms in state-owned petroleum and mining companies. More importantly, the Department should create a National Geological Survey Agency to collect a comprehensive geological information system and manage a National Mineral and Energy Database. The Department must implement a transparent and accountable governance framework, and improve effective interactions with other regulatory bodies, private companies, development agencies, and stakeholders.
Strengthening Institutional Capacity
Institutional capacity requires highly skilled specialists to provide effective regulatory functions to identify, design, implement, and manage a comprehensive regulatory system. Because the mineral and energy industries are so highly specialized with many technical dimensions, the skills available to the Department should ideally match with those from the private companies it regulates. In order to pursue this, the Department must conduct an organizational and capacity needs assessment. It must craft a plan to deliver the human resources necessary to develop and retain the staff required and implement organizational reforms so that the Department is properly structured to fully deliver its mandate in the areas of policy, regulation, and investment promotion.
High standards of transparency and good governance are essential to tackle corruption and ensure the sector delivers benefits to the stakeholders. These include accountable mechanisms for the allocation of mineral and petroleum rights through improved processes in licensing and contract management. It also involves transparent management of non-tax revenue collection like funds for social development and environment rehabilitation. Complementing contract management is improved oversight and compliance. Regulations must provide the structure for the enforcement of laws and the terms and conditions of the contracts and licenses.
Inconsistent regulatory decisions brought about by ‘regulator uncertainty’ that occurs in the aftermath of political transition create uncertainty for investors. This justifies the creation of an ‘independent’ regulator composed of tenured civil servants based on professional merits and technical expertise working in an organizational structure shielded from political patronage.
Improving the Role of State-Owned Resource Companies
Organizational reforms also require consolidating and strengthening ownership in resource companies owned by the state and providing a degree of effective government control and involvement in decision making. Especially for strategic projects, state-owned resource companies can benefit from preferential financing, low hurdle rate expectations, sovereign guarantees, grants, direct government subsidies, tax concessions, preferential treatment in public procurement, and other forms of public support. With this support system, state-owned resource companies should be encouraged to conduct initial exploration work in frontier areas to mitigate geologic risks.
Take the case of the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (“PNOC-EC”). The low capacity of technical personnel and lack of modern equipment are among some of the issues identified with the company. PNOC-EC could have acquired the interests of the divesting companies in the Malampaya natural gas project if it utilized its ability as a national oil company to access capital, human resources and technical services directly from oil field service companies (“OFSC”). OFSCs have been offering national oil companies services, specialized operations, and outsourcing needs with their high technical experience. Their services cover virtually all areas of exploration and production including facilities and reservoir-related services.
With the Malampaya acquisition, PNOC-EC can aggressively track new opportunities for growth through access to capital markets, increased profits, and greater participation in technology advancements. Further, it is better able to mitigate political risks through government-to-government relationships and negotiation strategies using the political muscle of the Philippine government. PNOC-EC has the ability to take greater risks, with strategic and geopolitical goals factored into investment decisions rather than being purely based on commercial considerations. A strong PNOC-EC could also have better leveraged in explorating in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
In the case of the Philippine Mining and Development Corporation (“PMDC”), direct mining operations may be out of reach for the company at present. PMDC was designated as the implementing arm of the DENR in undertaking the mining and mineral processing operations in the 8,100 hectare Diwalwal Mineral Reservation. However, PMDC can gradually develop capability through knowledge transfer by working in partnership with private companies thereby increasing in-house technical capability.
Managing the state’s equity in mineral projects is technically easier than operating mines, but it also requires dedicated professional skills to ensure that the state’s shares yield an appropriate return. In particular, board membership should be filled by skilled professionals who can dedicate substantial time to these tasks. Commercial efficiency is the best way of achieving PMDC’s goals over the long term. Detailed laws and rules on how PMDC is structured and how it interacts with state institutions and private investments, are necessary. The PMDC should also be able to manage itself with sufficient autonomy to make relevant and timely decisions. However, public accounts should be maintained in accordance with international standards and subject to independent audits.
Establishing a National Geological Survey Agency
Too often, regulators are bogged down by the sheer volume of monitoring, inspections, and extension work required. Also, the workload spent by technical personnel in contract monitoring results in insufficient time to assess the resource potential of the country, which is primarily the mandate of a Department handling the mineral and energy industries. Under the present set-up, technical personnel must also engage in the inspection of small-scale operations and geo-hazards aside from contract compliance duties.
The mineral and energy industries are capital and technology-intensive, which means that the country will need to attract significant private sector investment. One method to attract investment is by providing modern geological information to investors and this can be adequately fulfilled by a National Geological Survey Agency (“NGSA’). The Department shall be solely responsible for the establishment and control of an NGSA whose task is to conduct a comprehensive geologic survey and provide reliable scientific information on how to manage energy and mineral resources.
The survey will contribute important data to the Department and other agencies and compile assessments of minerals, energy, and other resource potential. The NGSA shall also provide services on geological mapping, geotechnical investigation, hydrogeological mapping, geophysical and geochemical mapping as well as basin analysis. It shall also engage in mineral and petroleum resources exploration and evaluation. By building technical capacity in the NGSA, the Department will improve the understanding of the country’s resource endowment and provide geoscientific information to investors.
National Mineral and Energy Database
Ease of access to a mineral and energy database facilitates investment into the extractive industries of a country. As such, having the digital infrastructure to host this data administered by the NGSA, is important for attracting new investments. The database will serve as a central depository for resource data and will be made available to the public on a centralized web and cloud platform for easy information access. The availability of additional information reduces uncertainty and increases investor confidence. Information and knowledge increase resource certainty and reduce risk, which allows better access to risk capital for further exploration as well as a more accessible and manageable base from which to develop a portfolio of resource projects. The digital platform to be used for access to the data bank can also be utilized in the submission of information to regulators for monitoring and compliance purposes.
The Department should also continue to adapt to a standard global classification system that addresses the probability of risk based on a set of resource criteria and attributes. This classification system would provide developers and potential investors with more information, and as a tool for resource valuation, allowing for the development of risk-balanced portfolios. Such standardization is critical to make informed decisions on development opportunities. The implementation of the resource classification system would provide the industry a clearly defined framework to evaluate prospects and establish a common industry language for resource and risks assessments. The Department and private industry should aim for the recognition by financial institutions and stock exchanges of the resource classification system to facilitate access to capital.
Enhancing Government Collaboration and Economic Linkages
While the Department shall have the primary responsibility for developing extractive industries, it also recognizes that many of its activities will require collaboration and linkages with other institutions. Inter-institution coordination among other resource-regulating agencies not directly under the supervision of the Department like local government units, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Energy Regulation Commission and other agencies will lower the transaction costs of developers.
Regulation of the extractive industries requires all responsible government agencies to work together and collaborate to strengthen regulation. As the main government agency for the extractive industries, the Department will take a leadership role in institutional collaboration to improve information flow and regulation, and streamline economic development. The Department should manage the effective coordination and collaboration of regulatory activities across the wide range of agencies that ideally should be involved in different aspects of extractives regulations.
Many downstream activities like the processing of minerals require access to low-cost power in order to be competitive. This is where coordination within the Department of Mines and Energy can easily facilitate this major hurdle in developing a viable mineral processing industry. International markets for processed mineral are highly-competitive and it is difficult to compete without relying on a facility where a major cost of production is electricity.
Another instance where the mining and energy function can be coordinated by the Department is the setting up of the regulatory frameworks for hybrid micro-grids. A key advantage of off-grid power plants is that it can power the energy needs of mining operations in remote areas, where the cost of building the infrastructure required to hook the mine up to the grid network or building a conventional power station will be significant. By having a dedicated off-grid power source, a mining operation can meet all its energy requirements and make significant cost savings in the price it pays for electricity. Micro-grids involve a combination of power sources, usually diesel or natural gas generators combined with some renewable energy resources.
In addition, given the significant involvement of the donor community in the extractive sector, the Department shall also establish a donor coordination forum for extractive sector activities. The economic linkages spearheaded by the Department will maximize the economic impact of extractive industries. Such linkages will also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of donor funding.
Inclusion in Conflict Resolution
Petroleum and minerals development has often been cited as a key factor in triggering and escalating violent civil conflicts. It is most likely to occur where local communities have been systematically excluded from decision-making processes, when the economic benefits are concentrated in the hands of a few, and when extractive industries clash with social and environmental concerns of local communities. Unwillingness to address these issues in peace agreements becomes a potential source of conflict in the future. The Department through an active involvement in the peace negotiations can articulate the natural resource issue into the process. Another instance where the involvement of the Department and the national oil company can be put into good use is in the assertion of the country’s sovereignty over petroleum resources in the West Philippine Sea.
Combining the Mines and Geosciences Bureau with the Department of Energy to form a strengthened Department of Mines and Energy will ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the mining and energy sectors. The strengthened Department will provide a stable regulatory framework able to manage the country’s resources and better respond to the strategic objectives espoused in the country’s development objective.
Fernando “Ronnie” S. Penarroyo specializes in Energy and Resources Law, Project Finance and Business Development. He is also currently the Chair of the Professional Regulatory Board of Geology. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for any matters or inquiries in relation to the Philippine resources industry and suggested topics for commentaries. Atty. Penarroyo’s commentaries are also archived at his professional blogsite at www.penarroyo.com
Addison, Tony and Roe, Alan, Extractive Industries - the Management of Resources as a Driver of Sustainable Development, UNU-Wider Studies in Development Economics, 2018, https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/extractive-industries
Al-Fattah, Saud L., National Oil Companies: Business Models, Challenges, and Emerging Trends, March 2014, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261696989_National_Oil_Companies_Business_Models_Challenges_and_Emerging_Trends
Copper Giants: Lessons from State-Owned Mining Companies in the DRC and Zambia, Natural Resource Governance Institute, 2014, https://www.resourcedata.org/dataset/rgi-copper-giants-lessons-from-state-owned-mining-companies-in-the-drc-and-zambia
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Patricia A. O. Bunye - August 30, 2022
Leadership Lessons from President FVR
Allow me to take this opportunity to pay my respects to our 12th President, Fidel Valdez Ramos, who passed away on 31 July 2022. PFVR is credited with many things, including ushering a period of stability and creating an environment conducive for investments, but the mining industry is understandably most grateful to him for the passage during his term of Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act. The Mining Act was but one of the pieces of legislation that were part of “Steady Eddie’s” road to Philippines 2000, which included breaking Marcos Sr.-era monopolies. Surely no one misses the days when there was only one airline and one phone company, or when there were daily power outages. While I never had the honor and privilege of working for him, I was always in awe of his leadership style. PFVR is well known for having institutionalized complete staff work or “CSW” in Malacanang which, simply put, admonishes all government agencies and his subordinates to “do their homework” before any document reaches his desk. Later administrations would follow his lead and further flesh out and provide details and timelines for more effective CSW. If I am not mistaken, it was also PFVR’s administration which began using barcodes to track incoming documents. Before the internet age, PFVR was already fond of clipping news articles and writing marginal notes on them in his legendary red pen which we would send to government officials very early in the morning by fax. These notes would either be reminders, action items or a simple pat on the back. An aide de camp who spoke at his wake ruefully recounted that his days were filled with collating news clippings for his workaholic boss from dawn until late evening. At the end of the day, “The Boss” would still ask, “wala na bang papel diyan?”, meaning he was still willing to work when others much younger than he were already exhausted. Listening to other eulogists who shared their memories of PFVR, I was struck by several recurring themes of their years working with him. These were men who were not politicians, but who knew him as a military officer in the field, and who saw him face the challenges of both military and civilian life. From their comments, I gleaned the following leadership lessons PFVR-style: Take care of your people. As a military commander, he would not leave checking on the troops to lower ranking officers. A subordinate recounts being surprised that a younger FVR would go to the field with a bag of medals both as a reward for the hard work of his men and a way of comforting them through their difficulties. According to Brig. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, one important lesson he learned from PFVR is: “(I)f you care enough for the nation you serve, act decisively on what needs to be done. There is no place far enough or isolated enough that cannot be reached if you wanted to. Honor every effort as soon as possible of those who sacrificed enough to fulfill their duties.” If you need something done well, put in the time and resources to make it happen. PFVR’s battlecry was “Let’s show them how to work” and work hard he did, spending long days which would often begin with running with the troops at 4am, which would allow him to hit several birds with one stone: meeting and discussing work concerns while bonding with his team. After the siege of the Manila Hotel on 05 July 1986, when those responsible were only meted pushups when they returned to their barracks, then-AFP Chief of Staff Ramos was severely criticized for the light treatment given to the putschists, ½ of whom belonged to the Constabulary, which he formerly headed. His aides say that lesson to be learned from that experience is: know your true intentions (in taking a course of action). PFVR then recognized the fragility of the new-post EDSA democracy. He knew then that his true objective was to unify the AFP which was severely politicized and that any punishment would further divide it. Keeping the organization intact, professional and strong was worth any criticism hurled at him. Make your organization function well. Be prepared. Anticipate all contingencies. Take every opportunity to improve yourself and serve others well Ask “are you part of the problem or part of the solution”? Strive for a win-win solution. One former aide recounted a PFVR trick of getting warring cabinet members to come to an agreement by asking them to meet in a small conference room and to revert to him only after they had a workable solution. Anything important needs to be written. Despite his famous photographic memory, he was a stickler for writing notes even on the golf course. Practice attentive listening. An aide recounts a gaffe when he only caught PFVR saying the word “barber” and, in his haste, called former Sen. Robert Barbers, when all PFVR wanted was a haircut. Lesson learned: don’t assume, but always seek clarification when in doubt. Throughout his six years as President, PFVR was always on-point and on-message with the direction he wanted to take (“Kaya Natin Ito!”). Whether or not you agreed with him, there was no equivocation about his position. He also effectively used wit and humor to defuse tense situations, including with the press. Two thumbs up, Mr. President. Mabuhay!
Philippine Resources - March 07, 2023
Offshore Wind Energy: the Payoff for the Philippines’ Science & Technology and Supply Chain Sectors
Commentary by: Mr. Francisco “Jun” Delfin Mr. Francisco “Jun” Delfin is Vice President & COO of PetroGreen Energy Corp. (PGEC) and President of Maibarara Geothermal Inc. (MGI), subsidiaries of publicly-listed and Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC) affiliate PetroEnergy Resources Corp. He is a geologist with a PhD in public administration from the University of Southern California (USC). His work experience spans private industry as YGC executive since 2008, professional geological practice with PNOC-EDC, government service as DOE Asst. Secretary and Undersecretary during the Arroyo administration, academia as Asst. Professor at UP National College of Public Administration & Governance and non-profit as past President of the Geological Society of the Philippines in 2009. Introduction Over the past 2-3 years, we have seen dramatic disruptions in global energy markets brought among others by the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and deepening concerns about fossil fuels’ impact on the earth’s climate. Such challenges have caused escalating energy costs, power supply shortfalls, rejection of fossil fuels especially coal, sustained shift to renewables and even a renewed focus on nuclear energy in many countries. The collective transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon energy future has led countries and organizations to adopt net zero policies, committing by different target years to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible. Offshore wind development benefits from these sweeping changes in the global energy landscape. In 2021, a record 21.1 GW of offshore wind capacity was installed, bringing cumulative global offshore wind capacity to 56 GW according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Europe and Asia are the leading regional market with 50.4% and 49.5% of the world’s total installations, respectively. Moreover, annual offshore wind energy growth is forecast to rise significantly to 8.4% in 2025-2030 from a modest 1.7% growth in 2020-2024. In Asia, high growth are expected in the following countries: China with 60-70 GW of capacity by 2030, Japan with 10GW by 2030 and 30-45 GW by 2040, Taiwan with 5.5 GW by 2025 and 20 GW by 2035, South Korea with 12 GW by 2030, and Vietnam with 9 GW by 2035 and 15 GW by 2040. Given its geographic setting, the Philippines should harness this fastgrowing clean energy resource not only for much needed power supply but also for the benefits it will confer on the country’s S&T and industrial sectors. Offshore Wind Development in Philippines The offshore wind (OSW) industry is in a nascent stage and can be said to officially begun in the country in April 2022 when the World Bank and the DOE completed and launched the Offshore Wind Road Map for the Philippines. This study is groundbreaking because it documented the country’s 178 GW OSW technical potential, identified six (6) high priority zones for development (Fig. 1), outlined two growth scenarios for the OSW industry, and specified recommendations to overcome challenges to such growth. This fledgling industry got a tremendous policy boost in the new Marcos, Jr.’s administration with the country’s top two energy officials – President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and DOE Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla – being staunch advocates of indigenous renewable energy development in general and wind power in particular. Several major policy decisions in quick succession demonstrated the government’s commitment to renewable energy and offshore wind and thus laid the groundwork for necessary private investments in the industry. In September 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opinion that the foreign equity cap on certain natural resources does not apply to wind, solar, and tidal energy resources. In November 2022, the President approved the DOE’s proposed offshore wind program and directed the agency, among others, to lead and harmonize the permitting process to expedite development and utilization of offshore wind (Figure 2). In December 2022, the DOE amended the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the 2008 RE Law, allowing 100% foreign ownership in wind, solar, and tidal energy resources. But even before the World Bank study and the onset of the new government a few local companies and their foreign partners have quietly moved into offshore wind. Two such early venturers were Triconti ECC Renewables and PetroGreen Energy Corp. (PGEC). The latter, a member of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC), partnered with Danish firm Copenhagen Energy to acquire three service contract blocs in Northern Luzon, Northern Mindoro, and East Panay. Admittedly, decisive policy actions by the new administration spurred more private sector interest in OSW. Thus, by end 2022, the DOE had awarded forty-three (43) OSW service contracts to twenty (20) individual companies with an aggregate target capacity of 33 GW. Even if only a fraction of these blocs is eventually developed, the medium- and long-term benefits for the country would be enormous. Figure 2. Pres. Marcos, Jr meeting with DOE Secretary Lotilla in Malacanang in November 2022 when the President approved DOE’s offshore wind development program. OSW Benefits: Payoff for Science & Technology (S&T) Clearly, the country’s power sector will be the primary beneficiary of OSW development. It can help achieve the DOE’s goal of increasing RE’s share in the generation mix from the current ~20% to 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040. Such aspiration requires additional RE capacities of 22 GW by 2030 and by another 52 GW by 2040 under the clean energy scenario in the DOE’s 2020-2040 Philippine Energy Plan. OSW can help provide these additions even if only a modest fraction of OSW’s 178 GW technical potential is harnessed. Also, with its ideally large capacity of >300-500 MW for a single wind farm combined with its high capacity factors (35-45%), OSW is arguably the best among RE options to replace coal generation in the country. But while advantages of OSW are obvious for the country’s power supply, less recognized is the significant positive spill-over benefits that OSW can contribute to the country’s science and technology (S&T) sector. The first immediate S&T beneficiaries of large-scale OSW development are our applied geological and environmental sciences and professions. There are three interrelated facets of OSW development where geological and environmental sciences will be employed and knowledge enhanced.First, a multi-agency marine spatial planning is necessary to minimize conflicts among competing uses of the marine environment. Whether government- or academe-led, marine spatial planning involves the collection not only of primary geoscientific and environmental data but also of social and cultural data over prospective or identified zones of OSW development. These data and their objective and professional analyses would be the foundation from which prospective OSW and pre-existing activities could be coordinated, integrated, and regulated and thus help avoid or reduce disputes among legitimate uses. During the feasibility study and development of the OSW projects, geological, atmospheric, and environmental sciences will be critical tools by which private developers can validate their block’s energy yield, establish the area’s average and extreme wind and ocean current conditions, characterize the bathymetry and bedrock geology of the prospective site, and evaluate the most appropriate foundations and mooring for their offshore wind turbines. Considerable primary scientific data will be gathered by such survey methodologies as floating LIDAR (Fig. 3), multi-beam echo sounding, side-scan sonar, magnetomery, shallow seismic survey, seabed coring, and many others. Environmental impact and geo-hazards risk assessments are the third facet of OSW development where environmental and geological knowledge will be enhanced and employed. Characterization of the baseline marine environment, including aquatic life and cultural artifacts, is necessary in assessing potential transient- and long-term environmental effects of OSW development. Among these possible consequences are seabed disturbance and noise, under-sea electromagnetic fields, marine habitat and livelihood loss. Similarly, geo-hazards investigation and monitoring would play critical role in ensuring the safe operations of the wind farms from extreme events such as super-typhoons, earthquake-induced tsunamis and landslides, ground shaking, and liquefaction. Apart from the positive externalities to applied geological and environmental sciences, OSW utilization can also bring about large-scale commercial green hydrogen production in the Philippines. This technological payoff will have many industrial and commercial applications a few decades from now, including energy medium for hard-to-abate sectors such as land transportation, aviation, and shipping, fuel for industrial heating, and chemical feedstock for refining, ammonia, and fertilizers. How is OSW going to birth a green hydrogen industry in the Philippines? Globally, hydrogen is already in use especially in chemical and petroleum refining. But the hydrogen used is one derived from hydrocarbons and the process emits significant CO2. Large capacity OSW power plants in the future can provide the potentially cheaper power source by which “green” hydrogen can be produced through electrolysis of water more economically and without any carbon involvement either in the raw material or in the process by-product. OSW Benefits: Payoff for the Supply Chain Sector Building the country’s capacity to deliver the components and services to build, operate, and maintain offshore wind farms is a major challenge but can also be a boon for our supply chain industries. To be sure, foreign suppliers and service providers will play an important role in the process but a sustainable and competitive OSW industry will inevitably require national capacities nurtured by public investments and private resources. Setting aside those related to our power transmission infrastructures, among the key services, sectors, and professions in the country that can benefit immensely from an OSW industry are vessels, ports and harbors, storage and warehousing facilities, logistics companies, manufacturing, construction including crane services, survey companies, environmental and geological professionals, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, and educational institutions. In the Philippines, perhaps the supply chain sector in most in need of early and focused government action are ports and harbors. During development of OSW farms, ports near the site with sufficient depths and large lateral areas are needed for delivery, laydown and storage of large components imported from overseas suppliers. Assembly of wind turbines will be done quayside and with hardstand suitable for heavy lift cranes as the turbines will be towed fully assembled from the port to their final installation site at sea. And during the operations and maintenance phases of OSW farms, the port will serve as warehouse, office, and housing facilities for staff and contractors transiting out to the wind power site. Hence, existing Philippine ports have to be expanded or new ones close to the sites constructed. Key parameters for OSW ports are given in Figure 4. In should be stressed that though port improvements for OSW can be costly, such large facilities can generate not only employment during construction but can serve non-OSW related economic activities such as fisheries, inter-island shipping, cruise ships and tourism, and even educational facilities. It is not hard to imagine that creating a national OSW supply chain can generate thousands of skilled and non-skilled jobs in the Philippines. Such commitment, efforts, and funds for building a viable delivery system, however, would only payoff in terms of employment generated, CO2 emissions avoided, gross value added to the economy, and of course power generated if the target OSW capacity is relatively large. If the goal is only 3GW of OSW capacity by 2040, as in the World Bank’s low-growth scenario, the costs of building a national supply chain system to service a small OSW industry may not make economic sense. Closing Remarks: Challenges to OSW Development and Utilization Even as the energy, environmental, scientific, technological, and commercial imperatives of large-scale OSW development are clear and compelling, we must be realistic that significant obstacles exist that can prevent the country from achieving those benefits. At the most optimistic scenario, the earliest the country can see OSW power generation would be around 2030. If the Marcos Jr administration hopes to compress this timeline to around 2028, then much work and hard decisions must be done now. Challenges come in two broad arenas: policy alignment and infrastructure development. Building on the welcome lifting of foreign equity restrictions on renewables, realignment of differing or conflicting policies among executive agencies involved in maritime resources and grid connection is absolutely crucial. Perennial but so far wishful recommendation on a “one-stop shop facility” for energy permitting must be replaced by the hard but inescapable need for the DOE to be in charge of all permits on behalf of other government units, if the permitting process will not become the quicksand in which OSW development will sink and vanish. In other words, private developers should only face the DOE in securing national government approvals; in turn, the DOE should be vested with procedural rights, through an Executive Order, to issue all permits on behalf of other agencies so long as the latters’ substantive rules on offshore wind are respected by the DOE. Obviously, this is easier said than done but piloting such a simplified permitting process for one advanced OSW project maybe the way to go initially. Implementation of such system to all OSW projects can then done subsequently once kinks have been ironed out. Though there are many supporting infrastructures, broadly defined, that will be crucial in birthing a viable OSW industry, three fields are especially critical. These are high-voltage transmission connection, ports and harbors, and an offtake mechanism for power generated. Discussions about grid enhancements are too detailed and beyond the scope of this brief paper. Suffice it to say, however, that NGCP and TRANSCO have the resources and access to internal and external expertise needed to build and enhance our existing grid facilities and protocol to allow utilization of large-scale OSW if given clear mandate from the political leadership. But for ports and harbors, much more planning, investments, and hard infrastructures are needed now for maritime agencies of the Department of Transportation, namely the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Administration (MARINA). The third “supportive infrastructure” relates to an offtake mechanism and the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commissions (ERC) must by this time study an offtake auction mechanism exclusive to OSW. For the government, this is a way to kick-start development by structuring auction to realize early capacity at the lowest possible cost. For private developers and lenders, offtake security via auction enhances commitment to mobilize risk money and motivates efficiency and innovation. Admittedly, it will take a while for such an auction mechanism to be fashioned but even a general early statement from the government that such mechanism is under consideration will send a strong positive signal to investors. In closing, it should be stressed that while many sectors will benefit from large-scale OSW development, the ultimate goal of such investments and efforts should be to lower retail electricity costs to consumers. An abundant, indigenous, and clean power source less immune to global fuel prices and foreign exchange disruptions can help eventually bring down power rates while transitioning to a low-carbon society. Offshore wind energy provides that opportunity. References: UN. 2023. For a livable planet: Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action. Available at https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/net-zero-coalition?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIh6-Ptq3- _AIVEjUrCh2e3wdYEAAYBCAAEgKLpfD_BwE. GWEC. 2022. Global Offshore Wind Report 2022. Available at https://gwec.net/wpcontent/uploads/2022/06/GWEC-Global-Offshore-Wind-Report-2022.pdf. World Bank Group. 2022. Offshore Wind Road Map for the Philippines. Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank Group. See for example: CNN Philippines Staff. 2022. DOJ: Renewable energy sector excluded from foreign investment cap. https://www.cnnphilippines.com/business/2022/10/2/DOJ-renewable-energy-sector-excluded-from-foreigninvestment-cap.html.; DOE. 2022. Media Releases dated Nov. 11, Nov. 17, and Nov. 22. Available at https://www.facebook.com/DOEgovph/. and https://www.doe.gov.ph/content/press%20releases?withshield=1. DOE. 2022. Philippine Energy Plan 2020-2040. Taguig City: Department of Energy. Delfin, Jr. F.G., Vasquez, A.A., Olivar, M.V.M. and Ventura, Y.V. 2022. Offshore Wind Energy: The Next Frontier in Renewable Energy Development and Applied Geosciences in the Philippines. Plenary Presentation at the 2022 Geocon. Geological Society of the Philippines. DNV. 2022. Hydrogen Forecast to 2050. Energy Transition Outlook 2022. Available at https://www.dnv.com/focus-areas/hydrogen/forecast-to-2050.html. Carbon Trust. 2021. ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme: Offshore Wind Delivery Framework (Part 2). Webinar Presentation, 18 June 2021 BuhaWind Energy. 2022. Initial View on Infrastructure. Internal BuhaWind Report, Nov. 8, 2022.
Fernando Penarroyo - March 07, 2023
A Cautious 2023 for Mining
The year 2022 saw a myriad of challenges as the Russian war on Ukraine, inflation, market volatility, food shortages, rising energy prices, and lingering pandemic impacts continue to shape global markets. The early part of last year was a robust period for the metals and mining sector. The industry was buoyed by record high prices for some commodities, supply chain constraints, and energy transition-related demand for some minerals. However, macroeconomic conditions deteriorated going into midyear and expected to persist into early 2023. This led to weakening near-term demand expectations and a downside risk to the metals and mining sector as many commodity prices slide and equity market support weakens. The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the souring relationship between the U.S. and China headline geopolitical and trade tensions which will have effects on the global markets throughout the coming year. The Russia-Ukraine war resulted in higher energy prices driving inflation and subdued demand for industrial metals particularly in Europe. China, the world’s second largest economy and a steady force in global trade, reopened its economy with Xi Jinping’s reversal of zero-COVID restrictions. China’s reopening will unleash a flood of household spending and consumption, which will also impact the economies of its trading partners. However, tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait will hound US-China relations. A brewing conflict in the region can cause instability, which will spook investors in the mining and energy industry. While many experts are projecting inflation to ease off this year as the pandemic weakens, S&P Global Ratings downgraded its GDP growth forecasts for its global growth expectations. Global inflation is expected to fall in 2023 and 2024 but will still be above pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. Federal Reserve implemented aggressive interest-rate hikes to tame inflation. The support lent to the U.S. dollar weakened other currencies causing high dollar-denominated commodity prices. The threat of a global recession driven by supply chain issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be the challenge in 2023. The world economy saw record-high inflation as the top concern last year. The broad sentiment among financial experts is that recession in 2023 is inevitable as higher prices due to inflation will give way to an economic downturn. However, a few analysts now feel that the U.S.—and possibly Europe—could narrowly avoid recession as inflation pressures started to abate. The rise in central bank rates to fight inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine will continue to affect economic activity. Hopefully, as 2023 progresses, central banks will be able to rein in on inflation. Global Mining Sector Outlook The outlook for the global mining sector has turned negative due to slowing economic growth, says Moody’s Investors Service. The rating agency said it revised its global outlook for the mining sector from stable to negative, citing expectations that cash flows and profits will decline in 2023 due to weak demand for metals and mining commodities arising from slowing economic growth. Inflation is also expected to pressure the metals markets and industrial commodities. S&P Global said that with inflation creeping up, metals prices have corrected from their recent highs and expected to fall further into 2023. Softening demand, stronger supply and weaker sentiment will further contribute to the downward pressure. The construction sector and disrupted property markets will be a drag on global demand for copper, iron ore, steel and base metals. U.S. real estate data show a downward trend in new construction and a general downturn in the housing market while the Chinese real estate market remain sluggish despite various government infrastructure initiatives. Meanwhile, supplies of copper, aluminium, lead, zinc, iron ore and steel, among others will post higher growth rates than in 2022. For precious metals, Moody’s noted that gold and silver prices are both declining “as higher interest rates and a stronger U.S. dollar” have curbed their appeal as safe haven investments. However, inflationary pressures and supply-chain constraints are showing signs of easing which could mean that global economic slowdown is less severe than expected. Decarbonization, Clean Energy Transition, and Net Zero Goals Concerned on climate-related risks have slowed down as the world grapples from the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war which resulted in high energy prices and inflation. However, last year saw a number of mining companies announcing investments and joint ventures into large scale renewable projects involving the installation of solar and wind facilities, upgrade of transmission networks, and installation of large-scale battery storage. Global mining leaders are also calling for the acceleration of the production of minerals needed to help reduce carbon footprint and meet net zero targets for carbon emissions. According to the latest global report from KPMG, “Sustainability on the horizon – the prospects of a net-zero future for metals and mining companies”, metals and mining companies are vital if the world is to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Nevertheless, miners face a number of obstacles to reach their net zero goals, the largest of which are the difficulty in measuring progress and lack of resources to bring them about. Also, achieving these net-zero ambitions will require a more realistic and balanced strategy. The KPMG report also states that the current transition away from fossil fuels will require a rapid increase in the number of electric vehicles (EV), thus considerable critical minerals will be needed. The production of battery materials – nickel, cobalt and lithium – will continue to forge ahead, following double digit-growth in 2022. KPMG estimates that more than 2 billion EVs will be needed to be manufactured to accommodate world demand and fully transition away from internal combustion engine vehicles by 2050. Energy transition efforts will also drive up demand for iron ore, zinc and copper. A recovery in the automotive sector and in low-carbon energy could help offset some of the demand weakness in other consumer-led segments. However, battery component supply pipelines will struggle to keep up with such a demand. Green technologies require critical minerals which are often challenged by geopolitical constraints. Given that the price of critical minerals has surged in 2022, the incentive to invest further in their production and circularity remains very high. Mining companies are investing in and developing new technologies to support decarbonization plans and increase productivity. Two technologies are expected to be of wide use in 2023 - drones and blockchain. Drones will be increasingly used to support exploration, surveying, mapping, monitoring site safety, stockpile management, blast analysis and reviewing tailing dams. At the same time, blockchain technologies will continue to support the traceability and accountability of supply chains. ESG Ernst and Young reported that environmental, social and governance (ESG) remains the top risk and opportunity for mining and metals companies in 2023. While ESG is expected to have broadening scope and complexity, it is now firmly integrated within corporate strategies due to its impact on almost every aspect of mining operations. Some of the areas for ESG improvement — improving diversity, equity and inclusion, are not new and remain to be major challenges. On the other hand, the issues of mine closures and rehabilitation will require a longer-term and more strategic view. ESG’s scope is broadening and pressure is growing to improve reporting and transparency. Even governments are increasing their energy transition efforts and addressing ESG concerns. Exploration The exploration industry is greatly influenced by metals prices and financing conditions. As capital costs and energy prices are expected to rise, miners are left with lower excess cash reserves to spend on exploration. Difficult financing conditions amid recession fears will also impact exploration according to a report of S&P Global. Global inflation, geopolitical instability, and fears of recession are taking their toll on commodities. Metal prices have fallen off their highs and markets have trended downward resulting in investors turning away from the mining sector. Interest in energy transition metals, however, will support exploration budgets for copper, nickel and lithium, although decreases for copper and nickel are expected. With the increasing uncertainty in the global marketplace, exploration budget will continue to focus more at mine sites and advanced projects than in grassroots projects, which may result in a notable decline in new major discoveries. Energy Energy was the S&P 500’s top performing sector two years in a row and many experts feel that more growth is on the horizon. Wood Mackenzie is forecasting a brisk return to oil demand growth next year, driven by the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China and the rising use of petrochemical feedstocks. Meanwhile, there will be a slowdown in LNG contract signings despite a busy 2022 for LNG contracting. In 2023, LNG contracting activity will slow down even as Chinese companies continue to buy and US independent upstream and midstream players secure deals to access global LNG markets. Europe will also continue to diversify its energy imports away from Russia and source liquefied natural gas from the U.S. to help fill in the demand. Meanwhile On the Homefront In their numerous roadshows abroad, the economic managers of the current government have affirmed support for mining as part of the country’s growth agenda. At the same ttime, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said her agency will undertake a comprehensive review of mining laws, its existing legal framework and current policies and practices that to her are “somewhat dated”. Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga further said that the DENR is eyeing to “build the technical capacities to support that direction and make sure that the social and physical advances in science and tech, as well as our current context developmentally are now adequately perfected in an updated policy and legal system.” Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga has also been quoted as suggesting “a range of actions including a progressive look at taxing exports” of raw nickel. Policy statements indicating another review of mining laws and imposition of more taxes will certainly be sending the wrong signals to investors. Conclusion The metals and mining sector will be facing the global economy in 2023 cautiously, fully aware of the risks if the pressures of inflation, global conflicts, and high energy prices of last year will continue to persist. The positive news is that clean energy transition - rising electric vehicles sales, the shift towards renewable energy technologies, and related transmission and distribution requirements will expand market demand. This growing demand will however be tempered if mineral-endowed countries like the Philippines fall prey to resource nationalism. On the other hand, the industry must strictly adhere to responsible mining and strike a balance in their ESG responsibilities of environment protection, uplifting local communities, and dealing transparently with the government and other stakeholders. The industry is precariously looking forward to a 2023 that brings more stability, and less economic and political upheavals. Fernando “Ronnie” S. Penarroyo specializes in Energy and Resources Law, Project Finance and Business Development. He is also currently the Chair of the Professional Regulatory Board of Geology. He may be contacted at email@example.com for any matters or inquiries in relation to the Philippine resources industry and suggested topics for commentaries. Atty. Penarroyo’s commentaries are also archived at his professional blogsite at www.penarroyo.com References: Aluminum International Today, Metals and Mining industry pessimistic about global growth, with over half more pessimistic than CRU forecasts, https://aluminiumtoday.com/news/metals-and-mining-industry-pessimistic-about-global-growth-with-over-half-more-pessimistic-than-cru-forecasts Bird and Bird, Energy Outlook 2023: Mining & Minerals, https://www.twobirds.com/en/insights/2023/global/energy-outlook-2023-mining-and-minerals Crooks, Ed, Ten Predictions for 2023, 16 December 2022, https://www.woodmac.com/news/opinion/ten-predictions-for-2023/ Freele, Elizabeth and Dekker, Rachel, Mining’s top ten ‘S’ trends in ESG for 2023, 17 January 2023, https://www.mining.com/minings-top-ten-s-trends-in-esg-for-2023/ KPMG Mining Outlook 2023: Prospects of a net-zero future for metals and mining companies, 30 November 2022 https://kpmg.com/au/en/home/media/press-releases/2022/11/brighter-prospects-mining-sector-transforms-towards-net-zero-30-november-2022.html Langton, James, Global mining sector outlook turns negative: Moody’s, 22 September 2022, https://www.investmentexecutive.com/news/research-and-markets/global-mining-sector-outlook-turns-negative-moodys/ Mitchell, Paul, Top 10 business risks and opportunities for mining and metals in 2023, 26 September 2022, https://www.ey.com/en_gl/mining-metals/risks-opportunities Rivera, Danessa, DENR to Visit Mining Laws, Philippine Star, 08 December 2022, https://www.philstar.com/business/2022/12/08/2229235/denr-revisit-mining-laws Routley, Nick, Prediction Consensus: What the Experts See Coming in 2023, 11 January 2023, https://www.visualcapitalist.com/predictions-2023/ S&P Global Market Intelligence, The Big Picture - 2023 Metals and Mining Industry Outlook, 10 November 2022, https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/research/the-big-picture-2023-outlook-for-metals-and-minin
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Philippine Resources - June 10, 2023
DMCI Mining Targets 1.5 Million WMT Nickel Ore Shipment in 2023
Photo Credit: dmcihouse.net DMCI Mining Corporation is targeting to ship 1.5 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore in 2023, after its subsidiary Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (ZDMC) was granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) in January to produce 2 million WMT of nickel ore. Prior to the ECC issuance, ZDMC was only allowed to extract 1 million WMT. “We have the necessary facilities and mitigating measures to minimize the impact of our operations on the environment. With these in place, we’re targeting to produce anywhere between 1.7 million to 2 million tons of nickel ore this year,” said DMCI Mining president Tulsi Das C. Reyes. From January to March, ZDMC nickel ore production soared by 88 percent from 318,000 WMT to 599,000 WMT, its highest-ever quarterly output. This led to a 16-percent improvement in total inventory, from 154,000 WMT to 178,000 WMT. However, total shipment declined by 21 percent from 620,000 WMT to 487,000 WMT owing to the depletion of the BNC mine and stockpile, cushioned by the double-digit growth of ZDMC shipment. Average selling price increased by 11 percent from USD44 to USD49 owing to higher Zambales shipments of higher-grade nickel ore. Despite the mine and stockpile depletion of Berong, DMCI Mining standalone revenues narrowly declined (-8%) from P1.4 billion to P1.3 billion due to better selling prices while reported net income contracted by 15 percent from P543 million to P463 million.
Philippine Resources - June 10, 2023
DMCI Power to build wind facility in Semirara Island
Leading off-grid electricity generator DMCI Power Corporation (DPC) is set to build a wind power plant in Semirara Island, home of the biggest coal reserve in the Philippines. DPC intends to finalize the wind power capacity in the coming months, with projections ranging from 8 to 12 MW, and operational implementation expected within 12 to 15 months. The project will be funded and undertaken independently by the company. “We are also looking at solar energy to augment the supply in the island, but we are prioritizing wind resource development because it has shown the most promise,” said DPC president Antonino E. Gatdula, Jr. “Current studies suggest that wind power could potentially deliver a 33% plant utilization rate, compared to just 17% for solar. Capital expenditure per megawatt for both wind and solar projects are also roughly the same,” he explained. In a 2001 wind resource study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a United States Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory, it was found that Semirara Island has some of the best wind resources in the Philippines. The wind corridors between Luzon and Panay (including Semirara Islands and extending to the Cuyo Islands) were found to have good-to-excellent wind power density and speed for utility-scale or village power applications. DPC is in the process of validating these wind resource estimates to determine the final location and capacity of its wind project.
Philippine Resources - June 05, 2023
Semirara Mining and Power Corporation eyes Japanese market expansion
Photo credit: Bilyonaryo Integrated energy company Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) is set to make its second trial shipment to Japan this June, in a bid to reduce its dependency on the Chinese market. The company will export 50,000 metric tons (MT) of Semirara coal to Shikoku Electric Power Corporation for its 700-megawatt coal fired ultra-supercritical power station. “China is still our main foreign buyer but with their industrial output growing slower than expected, we want to develop other Asian markets like Japan,” said SMPC president and COO Maria Cristina C. Gotianun. From January to March, Semirara coal shipments to China plunged by 50 percent from 2.2 million MT to 1.1 million MT, accounting for 72 percent of exports. South Korea was a steady market at 300,000 MT, representing one-fifth of export sales. The rest of the exports went to Japan (5%) and Brunei (3%). SMPC first made a trial shipment to Japan in January 2023, selling 78,410 MT of mid-grade coal to J-Power, a utility company that operates coal, hydroelectric, wind and geothermal power stations. “For 2023, we are targeting to export around 30 percent of our full-year sales target of 15 to 16 million MT,” added Gotianun. In the first quarter, standalone coal revenues sank by 40 percent from P25.7 billion to P15.5 billion mainly due to high base effect of record production, shipments and selling prices. Standalone reported net income slumped by 51 percent from P14.2 billion to P7 billion on topline weakness and slower decline in cash costs.
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