Construction of US$3.2-B natural gas refinery starts in Sulu
By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Partnering local and foreign executives have launched construction works for a British company-backed liquefied natural gas refinery plant in Lugus, Sulu, with civilian and military authorities assuring all-out support to help the province and the country “amplify” energy supply and employment opportunities,” officials said Thursday.
Sulu Vice Governor Sakur “Toto” Tan II and Energy World International Ltd. (EWIL) Executive Director Graham Elliot jointly led the groundbreaking rites on Tuesday, Oct. 22 in time with the 39th founding anniversary celebration of host Lugus town, host officials and project facilitators said.
“This is phenomenal and we welcome it as a great opportunity in our quest for meaningful peace and growth in our community,” host Lugus town Mayor Hadar Hajiri said in Pilipino in a televised interview, referring to the project.
Mayor Hajiri, acting as president and chief executive officer of the Sulu-based Hadar and Medzar Oil and Gas Corp. (HMOGC), had signed the project’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EWIL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Stewart W. G. Elliott, represented by his son Graham, on Sept. 16 in Zamboanga City.
The MoU signing was witnessed by Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Manny Piñol and Western Mindanao Command (WMC) head Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.
Gen. Sobejana, who attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, had accompanied the elder Elliott in a meeting here in August with Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim for briefing on the planned refinery plant construction in Lugus.
The EWIL, a British firm engaged in energy development, earmarks some 3.2-billion US dollars for the building of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) refinery plant at Parian Kayawan, one of island villages in Lugus where vast deposits of natural oil and gas have been discovered, project facilitator Amildasa Annil told the Bulletin.
Annil, a former information bureau director of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said the EWIL envisioned a Lugus Island Petroleum Park (LIPP) complex replete with an LNG production and export terminal, a seaport, an airport, an industrial precinct, a residential area, and a power generation plant.
At Tuesday’s rites, Vice Gov. Tan II, representing his father–Gov. Sakur Tan Sr., pledged the provincial government’s “all-out support” for the project, describing it as a “highly laudable venture offering potentials for more energy supply and employment opportunities in Sulu and other parts of the country.”
The younger Elliot expressed gratitude to both Tans as well as other civilian and military officials for their “manifest” supports to the EWIL-backed project, the largest socio-economic investment venture so far in Sulu and across the Bangsamoro region.
“The military alone cannot achieve stable security. It is the cohesion for good governance and life-enhancing projects that will matter, Sobejana said.
“When people are satisfied economically, rooms for terrorism in their midst will shrink or vanish,” added the general, who was also told that Sulu Sea is linked to the vast oil and gas deposits in the wealthy Kingdom of Brunei.
Tuesday’s ceremony was also graced Army Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., head of the Task Force Sulu, and BARMM Transportation Minister Dickson Hermoso, representing Chief Minister Ebrahim. (Ali G. Macabalang)
(NOTE: Attached is a handout photo showing Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan II, British investor Graham Elliot, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Bangsamoro Transportation Minister Dickson Hermoso, and other dignitaries breaking the ground for the construction of a 32.-billion liquefied natural oil and gas refinery plant in Lugus, Sulu on Oct. 22.)
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