Leyte Samar Daily Express
NAVAL, Biliran – With the geothermal exploration in this island “making good progress,” the provincial government here told the Iceland-backed developer, Envent Holdings Philippines Inc., to seek an official exploration permit and hold a dialogue with local officials.
Biliran Governor Rogelio Espina, Jr. said that the operator has not yet given complete details about the activity though the company has been conducting exploration since September this year.
The company said the surface exploration program by a group of sub-contractors, including Phoenix Geophysics of Canada and local geothermal consultancy Fedco, is expected to be completed by March 2009.
“The operator never asked a permit from my office even if they’re supposed to get it from us. I am seeking for a dialogue with them. We just had informal talks before,” Espina said.
Biliran has an estimated potential of generating at least 100-MW of geothermal energy. Envent’s associate company Biliran Geothermal Inc. (BGI) will execute the upstream part of the project, which includes the exploration of geothermal areas, well field construction and the extraction of steam from the area.
BGI will initially invest $1 million until December 2008 to develop the Biliran prospect, which was granted a service contract by the Department of Energy in early July.
Some $16 million to $19 million will be needed for the drilling operations of the three geothermal wells found in Sitio Pulangyuta in Brgy. Cabibihan in Caibiran town, Brgy. Villavicenta also in Caibiran and the other one, which is located in Brgy. Libtong in this municipality.
“We want to know what will happen if they will succeed the exploration. Would this pave way to bringing down the power rate? What’s the effect of this activity to the environment?” Espina asked.
The local chief executive raised concern that even if their province would host one of the country’s big source of geothermal power, this might not bring down the high power rate in Biliran.
“I’ve heard that host provinces (like Leyte) are still paying high power rate,” Espina added. He claimed that it remained unclear to them if the generated power will be channeled to a plant in Tongonan in western part of Leyte.
The Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant through the Biliran Electric Cooperative supplies electricity in the main island. The provincial government website said that average rate per kilowatt-hour is P5.22, “maybe the highest power rate in Eastern Visayas.”
According to Espina, high charges could be attributed to systems loss considering that power is being transmitted from Leyte through old wooden poles. He added that power failure is also common in their area.
Envent is currently working on several geothermal projects in the Philippines and is committed to contributing to the Philippine government’s target of an additional 1,200 MW of renewable energy by 2013.
“Because of the drilling that PNOC-EDC did in 1982, the data that we will have available at the end of the current exploration program will be much more substantial than is typical in projects of this sort. This will reduce our development risk as well as make the project more attractive to co-developers,” Gudmundur F. Sigurjonsson, Envent president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Envent’s key shareholders are Reykjavik Energy Invest and Geysir Green Energy, both global leaders in the renewable energy sector with specific focus on geothermal energy. Both companies are based in Iceland where an impressive 100% of their power is derived from renewable sources.
(Sarwell Q. Meniano)