The Philippines plans to revive its long-discontinued nuclear energy programme to combat the threat of a future power supply crunch — a prospect likely to raise safety concerns in a country prone to typhoons and earthquakes. The country is working with the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet the UN watchdog’s safety and other requirements, and investigating potential suppliers from Russia, South Korea, China and the US, said Alfonso Cusi, the energy secretary. The Philippines built a nuclear plant on the Bataan peninsula near Manila during the rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, but it faced public opposition and the project was shelved when successor Corazon Aquino took power in 1986.
In a sign of its renewed interest, the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte signed a letter of intent with Russia’s state nuclear company to co-operate on reactor technology during a trip to Moscow in October. Mr. Cusi said the Philippines was also considering rehabilitating the Bataan plant with South Korean help. Westinghouse, which has its headquarters in the US, built the original plant, which was completed but never put into operation, and could also build a new facility, he said, but there was “nothing definite” on this front.
The Malampaya offshore gasfield provides the main energy source for the Philippines, but analysts expect it to begin running out of the commodity within a decade. The South China Sea west of the Philippines is believed to have abundant oil and gas reserves, but the Philippines’ ability to exploit it has been vetoed by China, which lays claim to the area. The two countries have formed an intergovernmental committee on oil and gas exploration, but have not agreed on any projects.