By Myrna M. Velasco
A supplemental edict issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) has widened the coverage of energy projects that shall be covered by streamlined permitting processes under Executive Order (EO) No. 30, including not just the power sector but also the petroleum industry.
DOE’s Department Order No. DO2018-04-0008 that was signed by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi on April 25, 2018, has further categorized the EO 30-underpinned projects into two: Those that are classified as “upstream” projects; and the other “downstream projects.”
Under “upstream ventures” are exploration, pre-development and development stage covering oil, gas, coal, geothermal, solar, wind and hydro projects.
For “downstream projects,” the scope will rope in oil refineries, petrochemical plants, petroleum products distributors, retail outlets, natural gas distribution and power projects covering generation, transmission and distribution.
Based on initial understanding of the sector, it should just have been the power projects that shall be covered by EO 30, but the new DOE fiat apparently expanded the array of permitting and licensing processes that this policy could process – the approval of which could result in them securing Certificate of Energy Project of National Significance or CEPNS.
The energy department specified that in the processing of CEPNS for upstream projects, primarily on applicants for the exploration and development of fossil fuels (oil, gas and oil); and renewable energy with the exception of biomass, “the EICC (Energy Investment Coordinating Council) shall undertake initial assessment based on PEP (Philippine Energy Plan) requisite.”
It added that after determining conformity with the PEP, the application shall be endorsed to the Central Review and Evaluation Committee (C-REC), “for assessment and evaluation of the proponent’s compliance with its contractual obligations, such as on its work program, financial commitment and performance bond for the project.”
The EICC, as headed by the DOE, is a multi-agency council that will then process the approval of pruned permitting and licensing for energy projects that could qualify within the ambit of EO 30.
For “downstream” ventures, the DOE stipulated that at “commercialization phase” of the projects, proponents will also need to secure another CEPNS.
“After finding merits to the application, the EICC Secretariat shall endorse the same for evaluation to determine compliance with the relevant requirements for the issuance of endorsement or permit.