• EUROPEAN BUSINESSMEN CLOSELY WATCHING PHILIPPINES

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    SUBIC FREEPORT: European businesses are closely following developments in the Philippines, in particular Customs reform, competition and public procurement as they make crucial decisions on their investments in the country, a top Western diplomat said.

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    The Europeans’ keen interest was demonstrated on Thursday when envoys from European Union (EU) countries visited the Keppel Shipyard here, the fabrication site for the ongoing construction of the second offshore gas platform of the Malampaya Gas-to-Power Phase 3 (MP3) project.

    Ambassador Guy Ledoux headed the group of diplomats from Austria, Belgium and Italy; chargés d’ affaires of Germany, the Netherlands and Romania; deputy heads of mission of the Czech Republic and Greece and the French commercial counselor who visited the EU-supported Malampaya Phase 2 (MP2) project.

    This flagship European investment is the most successful public-private partnership in the country. EU firms have poured in four billion euros (P24 billion) since 2001, making it the largest investment in the Philippines.

    The offshore facility entails $1 billion from the Malampaya consortium to continue supplying three power stations with a combined 2,700 megawatts (MW), which is 40 percent to 45 percent of Luzon’s power demand.

    Under Phase 2, two more wells will be drilled and developed before the end of 2014, while Phase 3 requires the installation of a new platform for additional equipment and facilities in 2015.

    Sebastian Quiniones, Shell Philippines managing director, said the MP2 “will not only provide local jobs but is also expected to bring technical innovations in the country.”

    MP2 required the use of a 1,500-ton gantry crane, the largest in Southeast Asia, providing 1,500 jobs for the locals.

    “Your [country’s] fight against corruption boosted our confidence to invest in Philippine economy,” Ledoux said.

    The offshore transport and installation of MP2 beside the existing one off Palawan involved European companies Boskalis and Mammoet.

    The Malampaya project, which is operated by Shell Philippines, “will ensure that electricity (supply) will continue as the Philippines’ growing economy demands,” Ledoux said.

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