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A Brown acquires Singaporean gas firm

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By Myrna M. Velasco

Philippine listed firm A Brown Company Inc. has acquired Vires Energy Corporation (VEC), a gas company owned by Singaporean firm Argo Group Pte. Ltd.

In a disclosure to the stock market, A. Brown specified that the transaction was sealed on June 18 this year, and entails the acquisition of 99.995-percent of the outstanding capital of VEC, which had been valued at P50.2 million.

Vires Energy has been among the companies eyeing to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and regasification terminal in the country – and it has been working on that prospect since its incorporation in 2015.

Based on blueprint, the project has been targeting to provide gas fuel for a power plant project of 506-megawatt capacity that had been eyed to be sited in Barangay Simlong in Batangas City.

Following the acquisition by the A Brown group, Vires Energy indicated that it “will build the necessary infrastructure to allow the importation of LNG as early as 2022,” the timeframe when gas production at the Malampaya field is projected to reach declining state.

The company said it already has the requisite environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the project; and the venture has likewise been registered with the Board of Investments (BOI) for the availment of incentives.

The ownership changeover paved the way for Dr. Walter W. Brown to become Vires Energy’s chairman; while Eduardo V. Mañalac, who also previously served as President of state-run Philippine National Oil Company, will be retained as the gas firm’s president and chief executive officer.

Brown stated “the acquisition of Vires Energy reflects our confidence in the role of natural gas in providing for a clean and cost-effective energy resource,” as he noted that the company is “excited to push this project forward.”

The year 2022 is seen as a critical timing for the installation and commercial operations of a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) for LNG in the Philippines, hence, most project proponents are keeping their eye on that timeframe for the development race.

Vires Energy said it targets to “deliver natural gas through a pipeline to supply existing and new natural gas-fired power plants.”

It added that “the acquisition brings together a strong technical management group to see the project through,” mainly referencing on the wealth of experience and track record that both Brown and Mañalac had gained across industry chains in the energy sector.

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