MANILA, Philippines - The SM Group, through a partnership with global oil giant Chevron, is exploring opportunities for renewable energy in Bohol, Palawan and Samar.
SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) chief finance officer Jose Sio said Chevron has tapped the group’s private firm All First Equity Holdings as partner for its geothermal power business in the country.
The joint venture firm, Philippine Geothermal Power Production Co. Inc., will be 60 percent owned by the SM Group to comply with the constitutional provision limiting foreign equity ownership of entities engaged in the exploration of indigenous or renewable energy resources.
Chevron Geothermal a Philippines Holdings operates steam fields that provide geothermal energy to the Tiwi and Makiling-Banahaw (Mak-Ban) power plants in Albay and Laguna-Batangas provinces. Its pioneering efforts made the Philippines the second-largest geothermal energy-producing country in the world.
Sio said the group wants to harness the country’s rich geothermal resource potential as they aim to deliver a clean and sustainable source of energy in the country.
He said Chevron would take charge of the operations of the geothermal energy venture since it has the expertise.
The SM/Chevron group is looking at other areas as possible exploration sites.
Chevron is APC Group Inc.’s partner in a geothermal power project in Kalinga.
Belle Corp., a leisure developer and gaming firm controlled by the Sy family, owns 47 percent of APC.
The SM Group, through SMIC, is mainly engaged in five businesses – shopping mall development (SM Prime Holdings); retail of dry goods, apparels, food and other merchandise; real estate development (SM Development); hotels; and financial services (Banco De Oro Unibank and ChinaBank).
It also owns a 28.43-percent stake in Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corp.
The Department of Energy earlier said it was looking to raise geothermal energy production in the country by 2,000 megawatts by 2020. The country’s installed geothermal capacity presently stands at 1,966 MW, making it the second-largest geothermal producer in the world,next to the US with more than 3,000 MW, and dwarfing New Zealand, which has over 700 MW.