(L-R) Orka Energy-CEO Eirikur Bragasson and New-Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines ReubenEvermore
(L-R) Orka Energy-CEO Eirikur Bragasson and New-Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Reuben Evermore

MANILA, Philippines-Biliran province in Eastern visayas will soon have its own geothermal energy source through the Biliran Geothermal Incorporated, the service contractor on behalf of the Philippines, in partnership with Iceland company Orka Energy.

The project which had its exploration and drilling phase in December 2012 and now entering its second phase of development stage is projected to generate 49 MW, which is also more than enough to serve the province’s power needs, BGI said.

Eirikur Bragasson, CEO of Orka Energy, said that the Biliran is expected to produce its own power energy for the next two years.

Orka Energy’s participation in the geothermal project is their first in the country.

“ We’ve finished the first stage, and now we’re into the second stage which is about putting up power plant, turbine, transmission and other operations. The project here has indicated a very strong geothermal energy resources, all green energy which can be utilized for the benefits of the community…and also as our biggest contribution to fight global warming,” Bragasson said during the consultative meeting with local officials, academe and other stakeholders at the provincial legislative hall.

BGI and Orka have sought for a resolution from the provincial council for their permit under the second stage of the project.

Joining Bragasson are New Zealand ambassador to the Philippines Amb. Reuben Evermore; Mario Marasigan, Chief of Renewable Energy Bureau of the Department of Energy; Ariel Fronda, Renewable Energy Bureau; Nilo Apuda, Site manager; Collin Jenner, Project Support Director, BGI; Johanness Smari Porarinsson, Resident Engineer, BGI; Steve Rout, Construction Manager, BGI; and other BGI officials and employees.

Explaining the project to the community, Bragasson believed that parallel to the “lots of activities in the province supporting the project”, the creation of the geothermal plant “provide not only economic opportunity but also more reliable energy to the locals.”

“We intend to influence the community on green energy,” said Bragasson, adding he is confident that the community “need not to worry at all” in terms of disadvantages the project, assuring the audience of geothermal energy as clean energy.

As Orka and BGI are set to sign an agreement with Toshiba company for the turbine and other operational works on a power plant, Bragasson said the project is also expected to employ more than 600 workers in the site, mostly on engineering, steel works, pipelines, machineries and other construction works.

According to Bragasson, Biliran will soon be selling energy to Leyte and to others.

“Our project is an international project, with funds from Iceland and new Zealand,” said Bragasson, adding their company is also open to the “advises” from local community.

During the meeting, BGI and Orka Energy have assured that the local community will get a cheaper price of their electricity through the plant, as it lessen transmission rate in their electric bills.

On his part, Amb. Evermore took the opportunity again to express sympathy to typhoon Yolanda victims in the region and congratulated the project proponents and the local government for the upcoming geothermal plant.

“I am happy of this project. One of our objectives is to try to contribute and work on renewable energy, and it is not new… I am pleased my country will have a chance to contribute to the Philippines. I am confident of this project. More jobs will be created in Biliran and that important energy needs will be met.”

Evermore also acknowledged the geothermal energy potential of the country considering its geographical profile.

Not every country in the world has not the same opportunity as the Philippines have in terms of geothermal energy potential, Evermore added.

Marasigan lauded the BGI and Orka , also expressing confidence that said geothermal project will be successful and that it will bring “lots of benefits to the country.”

“ I congratulate Biliran as one of the sources of geothermal energy in the country.”

Meanwhile, Mark Julius Oraa, BGI community relations officer enumerated the various advantages of the project to include the benefits of renewable, reliable and sustainable energy, sustainable ecology, tourism boost, revenue generating, and economic stimuli to the host community, not to mention, royalty taxes and other revenues to the host area.

Already granted an environmental compliance certificate, the Biliran geothermal power plant will set on a 3,000 hectares study area within the local government unit of Caibiran.

The plant will be specifically located at sitio Pulangyuta, barangay Cabibian, of Caibiran town in Biliran.

Aside from the upcoming Biliran geothermal plant, Eastern visayas hosts the world’s second largest geothermal field through the Tongonan Geothermal plant in Kananga, Leyte.