By: Rodrigo S. Victoria
NAVAL, Biliran – A huge chunk of foreign investment amounting to $180-M or roughly P7.38-B will be poured in, in the island province of Biliran with the start of the 49 megawatts Biliran geothermal project in April 2013.
“The amount of $180-M will be downloaded in a Singapore bank”, Nilo A. Apuada, the site manager of Orka Energy Philippines Incorporated assured in his closing statement after a lengthy discussions with the members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Naval, barangay officials, heads of concerned agencies of the government and the head of a people’s organization present during an out-of-SB hall regular session held in Barangay Libtong in this town.
However, Apuada clarified that the release of the $180-M depends on the completion of the necessary requirements needed for the geothermal project to start.
It was learned that Orka Energy Philippines Incorporated represented by Nilo A. Apuada and its local partner Biliran Geothermal Incorporated (BGI) represented by the company’s legal counsel, Atty. Thea Gicela Nueve-Zamora, were in the process of securing the necessary documents as requirements for the geothermal project to start in Biliran province.
The documents include barangay resolutions coming from Barangays Cabibihan and Villavicenta in the municipality of Caibiran and from Barangay Libtong in the municipality of Naval including SB resolutions from the two municipalities approving the exploration drilling of the three exploration holes of the geothermal project. These documents are vital also in securing an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the regional office of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8.
Apuada also clarified that another set of documents will be asked by Orka and BGI from the concerned local government units and national government agencies if the three exploration holes are found to be positive of geothermal energy source.
The Orka site manager said that December 20, 2012 is the deadline set by the company for the completion of the necessary documents before the funds for the project will be released and for the project to start by April 2013.
Meanwhile, Apuada informed that the area for the development of the geothermal project is from three square kilometers to six square kilometers or about 30 hectares to 60 hectares.
He added that out of the total estimated 15 holes that will be drilled as sources of geothermal energy for the entire geothermal project which will run from April 2012 for its exploration drilling and December 2015 as its expected geothermal power generation, two holes will be initially drilled in Caibiran and one hole will be in Naval, Apuada further said. Out of the 15 holes, five holes will be used for embankment of water taken from the drilled holes and the other 10 holes as sources for geothermal energy production, Apuada said.
Both Apuada of Orka and Atty. Zamora of BGI including one Audrey Yson, technical staff of ECI answered all the issues and concerns ranging from the environmental safety and economic benefits of the geothermal project and also took note of the suggestions and recommendations from the members of SB Naval led by Vice Mayor Redentor Villordon, Dr. Urbano Doydora, provincial director of DENR-Biliran, Sofronio Dacillo, environment and disaster management officer of Biliran province, Barangay Libtong barangay officials led by Barangay Captain Judy Espregante, Deonilo Pantas, president of a non-government organization representing the affected Community-Based Forest Management Area (CBFM) in Libtong. (PIA 8 Biliran)