Dennis Uy officially part of Malampaya consortium

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Davao businessman Dennis Uy

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11) — Businessman Dennis Uy has formally secured a 45 percent stake in the prized Malampaya natural gas facility in Palawan, taking the place of global giant Chevron.

Uy’s Udenna Corporation said Wednesday that the buyout deal has been completed by its subsidiary, UC Malampaya Philippines Pte Ltd. by acquiring the shares owned by Chevron Malampaya LLC.

Malampaya supplies roughly 30 percent of the country's energy demand. The project site spanning 83,000 hectares is near Reed Bank off Palawan province, a part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone but is also being claimed by China as theirs.

RELATED: PH share could go beyond 60% in China-funded joint exploration – Esperon

In a statement, Uy said the company sees “immense potential in natural gas,” dubbing it the “fuel of the future.”

Uy also owns retail fuel chain Phoenix Petroleum, one of his original businesses before buying additional retail brands like Family Mart and Wendy’s, logistics company 2GO, and securing the license for DITO Telecommunity as the third major player for telecommunications. The Davao-based tycoon, who is the 22nd richest in the country, is one of the campaign donors of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Udenna revealed its plan to enter the Malampaya project in November 2019, saying it struck a deal with Chevron after a year of talks. Last month, the Philippine Competition Commission said it found no issues with Uy’s presence in Malampaya, saying it would not lead to a monopoly in the energy industry.

The gas field is currently operated by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. with the government's Philippine National Oil Company. The contract with Shell expires in 2024, the same year that the Department of Energy estimates the gas field to have substantially reduced its capacity.

Once the petroleum exploration and production contract lapses, full control and ownership of the Malampaya natural gas and oil facilities will be turned over to the national government. Proceeds of Malampaya’s operations have been the subject of court cases amid issues of corruption and wealth-sharing between the national and local government.

RELATED: Duterte signs law to lower electricity cost by using Malampaya earnings

Udenna earlier said that it is looking to further develop Malampaya "and its surrounding fields," adding that it would help the conglomerate shift into sustainable clean energy.

Uy beat tycoon Manny Pangilinan, who runs power distributor Meralco, into taking Chevron's place in the natural gas project, with the government rejecting Pangilinan-led PXP Energy's pitch to further develop the oil-rich area.

READ: PXP asks gov't to reconsider Malampaya takeover bid