BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS said Wednesday that they support a continued investigation in the Senate into the sale of stakes in the Malampaya operators, citing the threat to national security.
“The government should scrutinize the buyer’s financial and technical capabilities and interests and should reserve, enforce, and exercise its right to block and invalidate transfers of shares and control that may be disadvantageous to the Filipino people,” they said in a statement.
The business groups said the government failed to oversee the transaction and intervene by either blocking the deals or denying operating licenses to buyers whose qualifications are in question.
“From an energy security standpoint, the delay may be a breach of fiduciary duty given that the existing wells are expected to be depleted by 2025, and the estimated 5 years needed to explore and develop additional wells,” it said.
The chairman of the Senate Energy committee, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, declined to comment on the statement.
In March 2020, Udenna group unit UC Malampaya Philippines Pte. Ltd. acquired Chevron Malampaya’s 45% stake in the gas-to-power project, which was approved by the Energy department.
Earlier this year, Shell Petroleum N.V. reached a deal with another Udenna subsidiary, Malampaya Energy XP Pte Ltd., to acquire the 45% stake held by the project’s operator Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.
The Energy department is currently reviewing the technical, financial, and legal aspects of the Shell-Udenna deal.
The business groups said “allowing the sale of a critical energy asset to a group with, at the time of the bid, no experience or track record in gas exploration or production needs to be further investigated.”
The statement went out in the name of the Energy Lawyers Association of the Philippines, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, the Filipina CEO Circle, the Integrity Initiative, Inc., the Investment Houses Association of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, the Philippine Women’s Economic Network, and the Women’s Business Council Philippines. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan