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Loony priority

Upon assuming power, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Department of Energy to study the possibility of exploiting nuclear energy, including the possible reactivation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), as a long-term answer to the energy problem.

Everything proceeded smoothly, and many were anticipating that the Philippines would enter the nuclear age, which is already behind its affluent neighbors in the region that have long solved their electricity supply dilemma through nuclear energy.

The Philippines faltered in the crucial leap despite being among the first to build a nuclear power plant in Asia.

Blame the obstructionists who keep on harping on the ancient trepidation over the safety of fission technology despite the huge development that had made it the most beneficial way of generating power.

Through the years, nuclear power has become the cheapest way of producing electricity.

Russia has committed to provide the country with the best technology it can offer in helping usher in a new age in electricity security.

What was needed was congressional support in crafting a nuclear policy that will encourage investors.

Then came Senator Sherwn Gatchalian, head of the Senate Committee on Energy, who goes on with a single-track determination toward liquefied natural gas (LNG) and rejected the revival of the BNPP, which should be the quickest path toward the nuclear energy revival.

Instead, he called the BNPP “a remnant of the failed nuclear energy policies of the past.” He added, “It has no place in the future of Philippine nuclear energy.”

Later on, the senator filed Senate Bill 2203, which seeks to provide a road map for LNG importation, raising the question why prioritize imports when local resources are available.

At the moment, the senator is also throwing roadblocks to the prospect of extending the Malampaya natural gas field, for which the contract with the government ends in 2024.

New owner Udenna Group will be spending nearly P50 billion to buy out oil giants Chevron and Shell from the project.

Gatchalian immediately jumped in, saying that an investigation is on the way immediately after the deal in which Shell will transfer control of the project’s operations to Udenna was announced.

The same amount is being invested by the Lopez group in putting up an LNG import terminal and a power plant running on imported fuel in Batangas, which evidently would be the initial beneficiaries of the perks that Gatchalian is drafting through his bill.

Gatchalian cited his desire to ensure that brownouts would be a thing of the past with his LNG importation measure since he reasoned the resource is cheap.

It is hard to fathom how the senator came up with the conviction that giving priority to imported fuel will redound to the long-term security of the energy sector when ready solutions, such as the reactivation of the BNPP and keeping natural gas flowing from Malampaya, are there for the taking.

Contrast his moves and the pursuit of self-reliance on energy supply, which is meant to wean the country away from imported fossil fuel that has been achieved with the use of indigenous sources of energy.

Gatchalian, however, is now trying to turn the hands of time back to import dependence.

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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