by Myrna Velasco
The Board of Investments (BOI) under the Department of Trade and Industry has given go-signal to Nickel Asia Corporation’s (NAC) equity purchase in the planned 100-megawatt Biliran geothermal power project.
The transaction involving NAC will change the ownership structure of the Biliran Geothermal, Inc. (BGI), the project’s corporate vehicle.
Effectively, NAC is the majority equity holder in Emerging Power, Inc. (EPI), which currently is the major investor in the Biliran geothermal venture with 60-percent stake.
Prior to the transaction firming up NAC’s entry into the project, it was another Filipino firm Filtech Energy Corporation which had been holding the majority interest of 60 percent in the Biliran project; while Iceland firm Orka Energy holds the balance of 40-percent.
For the project to advance, NAC has guaranteed “the loan facility of EPI for up to P3.0 billion over a three-year period to finance EPI’s renewable energy projects.”
In a statement to the media, EPI president Martin Antonio Zamora has noted that they consider the Biliran concession “as one of our major projects.”
He thus assured the BOI that “the project will materialize,” and that the plant will eventually augment power supply and economic benefits to its host community.
From a targeted capacity of 100MW, EPI has further indicated that initial research also shows “another estimated 170MW could be developed in the northern part of the concession area.”
The company said it already completed drilling of at least eight wells in the southern portion of its awarded service area.
The Biliran venture has been granted a 25-year geothermal renewable energy service contract covering 260 kilometers of concession area in Biliran province.