The Department of Energy (DOE) is scouting for investor-challengers in at least two coal operating contracts (COCs) that it tendered for specified blocks in Visayas and Mindanao.

For the targeted Mindanao coal mine developments, the blocks on offer are those in Asturias in Jolo, Sulu; Carmen in Cotabato; and another one in Compostela Valley; while the prospect in Visayas is in Danao City, Cebu.

For all coal blocks, the energy department announced that it got an unsolicited offer from local firm EFH Energy Tribe Corporation (EETC), hence, it will be subjecting that bid to a 60-day challenge based on the prescription of the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP) that was designed under the Duterte administration.

The PCECP is a contracting round being instituted by the government on its offer of blocks for exploration and development of indigenous coal as well as gas resources.

For the coal blocks in Mindanao and Cebu, the DOE indicated that the 60-day challenge period will lapse on August 17 this year; while pre-submission conference was already concluded last July 8.

As specified in the department’s tender notice, the nominating party and challengers are required to submit their complete application documents at the DOE Records Management Division — following the payment of corresponding application fee of P200,000 with the DOE Treasury Division.

The deadline of submission of documents and the opening of bid documents shall be on the prescribed 60th day of the challenge period – which in the case of the specified COCs will be on August 17 this year.

The DOE has been re-calibrating its tendering process – not just for the country’s petroleum reserves but also of indigenous coal resources – so these targeted developments can help enhance the country’s energy security goals in the long term.

Beyond the commercial yield of the Semirara coal mine in Antique, the country is still considerably fledgling when it comes to indigenous coal exploration and development, hence, its existing coal-fired power facilities still depend mainly on fuel imports.

The DOE is eyeing to pare dependency on coal-fired power generation under the clean energy scenario pathway that had been cast in the updated Philippine Energy Plan, but it noted that coal will remain in the overall energy mix as this could still cater to key industries in the future.

That paradigm shift in coal investments had been underpinned by a ‘coal moratorium policy’ that was officially declared by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi in October last year – as the government sounded off preference for installations of greenfield renewable energy (RE) projects.

Source: Manila Bulletin (