(STAR)  By Marianne V. Go - Hampered by a prolonged dry spell, the agricultural sector managed to post a growth of only 3.5 percent for the first half this year, with total farm production amounting to P466.7 billion, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said yesterday.

The growth figure was well below the 5.4-percent expansion posted in the same period last year, the DA said.

In a press conference, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, however, said the targeted full-year growth of 4.5 percent for 2007 may now be difficult to achieve although he stopped short of making a projection for the second semester.

Yap said the crops sub-sector, which contributes almost half of the total production in agriculture, posted a 2.63-percent growth from January to June this year.

The livestock sub-sector, which contributes 12.67 percent of the total, posted a 2.58-percent growth, while the poultry sub-sector, which contributes 13.12 percent, posted a 0.22-percent growth.

It was the fishery sub-sector, which contributes 27.26 percent of the total agricultural production, that propped up the sector by posting a healthy growth of 7.19 percent.

In terms of value, farm production rose 5.19 percent from P443.6 billion in the first half of 2006 to P466.7 billion this year.

DOE’s Reyes to push for development of natural gas industry By Donnabelle L. Gatdula Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes will push for the further development of the country’s natural gas industry.

In his presentation at the Kapihan sa Manila yesterday, Reyes said he would be focusing on the construction of various natural gas infrastructure such as gas pipelines.

Reyes, who became Energy chief two weeks ago, said there is a need to boost the natural gas sector as this will not only help in increasing the country’s energy self-sufficiency but will also promote the use of this indigenous source of energy in the transport, industrial, commercial and power sectors.

He said they are eyeing to produce 3,000 megawatts (MW) from greenfield natural gas projects and 1,500 MW for conversion.

“Natural gas is the way to go. It is the fuel of the future,” he said, noting that the development of infrastructure, particularly gas pipelines, will require $5 billion worth of investments from 2007 to 2014.

He said there is a proposal to put up a 100-kilometer Batangas-Manila 1 (Batman 1) gas pipeline and 140 km Bataan-Manila II (Batman 2).

The Energy chief said they are also proposing the construction of the 40-km ET (Edsa-Taft) Loop; 35-km Sucat-Manila (Su-Ma); 40-km Bataan-Cavite (Batcave); 35-km Robin (Rosario-Biñan) and 30-km Calaca-Spurline (Catline).

Also included in the strategies of the government for natural gas development, he said, is the mandate to convert the coal-thermal power plants Sucat, Limay and Malaya to natural gas-fired power facilities.

He said aside from the conversion, they would also be promoting the construction of greenfield natural gas facilities.

Among the areas being looked at as potential sites for these power facilites are in Cagayan, Central Luzon Basin, east and west offshore Palawan, Libertad in Cebu, Sulu Sea, Cotabato Basin and Agusan-Davao basins.

He said there is also a commitment from the Shell Group to pursue the start of the commercial operation of a mother-daughter compressed natural gas (CNG) facility in Laguna by end-September this year.

“I have talked with (Shell country chairman) Edgar Chua. He said they will be starting the operation of a daughter station in Biñan, Laguna next month,” Reyes said.

The Department of Energy he said, is also looking at other potential areas to locate a similar CNG facility. These are in Clark, Cavite and Batangas.

On the international front, he said he would also be supporting the access to liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities through the trans-ASEAN gas pipeline.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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