SINGAPORE, January 21, 2006
 (BULLETIN) (Reuters) — Asian currencies edged lower on Friday, taking their lead from a softer yen and a retreat in local stock markets, and political jitters in the Philippines pushed the peso to its lowest level in three weeks.

The peso weakened a third of a percent to 52.96 per dollar, its lowest since Jan. 2, on worries that there could be a plot to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The softer tone in equities raised expectations of an easing in foreign demand for local stocks and currencies, dealers said.

The South Korean won eased a third of a percent to 988 per dollar from Thursday’s domestic close and the Taiwan dollar hit a two-week low at 32.215 per US dollar before trimming losses slightly by late trade.

The Singapore dollar shed about a quarter of a percent to 1.6344 per US dollar from late Asian trade on Thursday, while the Indonesian rupiah fell almost half a percent to 9,445 against the dollar.

"The Thai baht, Indian rupee and Indonesian rupiah have had a good run and tactically I wouldn’t want to be in them. That’s because portfolio flows are important and if they are slowing down, that does take the juice out of the story."

German investors inspired by 5-M power project spacer

VILLANUEVA, Misamis Oriental — The successful completion of the 210-megawatt Mindanao coal-fired power project has encouraged the German government to further expand investment in the Philippine power sector.

German Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Axel Weishaupt said this last Wednesday during the Boiler Pressure Test ceremony for 210-megawatt Mindanao coal–fired power project of STEAG State Power Inc., a joint venture of German firm STEAG AG and State Investment Trust, Inc.

The project, which costs 5 million, is being implemented under a Build Operate Transfer scheme with the National Power Corporation (NPC).

Ambassador Weishaupt and Energy Undersecretary Guillermo Balce are among the principal guest and led national and foreign dignitaries during the Boiler Pressure Test Ceremony of the 210 MW Mindanao Coal-Fired Power Plant Project.

"Next year in January is the official ceremony for the turnover of the 210 megawatt Mindanao coal–fired power project. I am sure others will follow," he said.

The German government also plans Wind energy and Solar energy project in Northern Luzon region in the future to save fuel, according to him.

The project proponents of the 210-megawatt Mindanao coal–fired power project has assured government of its commercial operations by end-2006.

STEAG State Power president Andreas Rubin said: "We promised that by the end of 2006, we would already complete this power plant.

Under the Philippine Energy Plan 2005 to 2014, existing power producers in Mindanao will not be able to meet the fast growing electricity demand for the island. The 210 megawatt Mindanao coal–fired power project is set to meet the challenge of attaining stability in the supply of electricity in the region and avert a potential power shortage in the island.

STEAG State Power communication officer Jerome R. Soldevilla said once the fully operational by the end of 2006, the power plant will supply additional electricity to the Mindanao grid representing about 15 percent of the island’s total power demand.

Meantime, marking a significant milestone in the construction of Mindanao’s first ever coal-fired power plant, the ceremony is, by way of tradition, a historic event in construction of thermal power plants. It is a special celebration peculiar to coal and gas-fired boilers of power plants for passing the officially witnessed and certified hydrostatic pressure test.

During the test, the highest allowable force is applied to prove the mechanical strength of the water/steam tubes and pipes of the steam generator, in this case 270 bar or 27Mpa.

Authorized agencies for acceptance and certification of this test are the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or ASME inasmuch as the boilers were designed, manufactured and erected in accordance with the standards set by these entities.

The boiler is the power plant’s biggest component unit and generates pressurized and super heated steam to be used in the energy conversion process in the steam turbine which finally leads to electricity generation by the connected generator.

The boiler ceremony was highlighted by the hammering of the assigned eight-digit serial numbers to the data plates of the two boiler units led by Philippine and German government dignitaries, officials of the project company STEAG State Power Inc.or SPI and its majority shareholder, the Germany–based power company STEAG Aktiengesellschaft and local shareholder, State Investment Trust, Inc. Some 300 local and foreign guests witnessed the affair.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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