MANILA, March 6 (Reuters) - The Philippines' First Gen Corp is talking with potential partners for its proposed $1 billion LNG import terminal, the head of the energy firm said on Friday.
First Gen, one of the Southeast Asian nation's biggest power producers, has been under pressure to make a quick decision on whether to build the import facility as it looks to secure long-term supplies of liquefied natural gas for its growing portfolio of gas-fired power plants.
"We have to decide this year who our partners will be," First Gen President Francis Giles Puno told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event.
Puno declined to identify potential partners, but said First Gen was discussing "possible areas of cooperation" in natural gas with firms including Royal Dutch Shell. Shell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
First Gen expects to make a final investment decision by early next year and could open the onshore terminal around the start of the next decade, Puno said.
First Gen, which operates the Santa Rita and San Lorenzo gas-fired plants in Batangas province with a combined capacity of 1,500 megawatts, expects to switch on its third gas-fired plant, the 97 MW Avion, by June.
A fourth, the $600 million San Gabriel plant with a 414 MW capacity, will be up and running by April next year.
The two new plants will also run on Malampaya natural gas supplied by Shell from its Palawan contract area in the western Philippines. The government has said that Malampaya's output may run out by 2024.
Shell is looking to set up a floating LNG facility near its Tabangao refinery, also located in Batangas, near the capital Manila, ahead of the Malampaya shutdown, with First Gen as a possible customer.
The Philippines is set to open its doors to imported LNG this year with the commissioning in about three months of a power plant built by Australia-listed Energy World Corp in Quezon Province.
(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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