(MNS Photo)

MANILA, July 8 (Mabuhay) – The Marcos administration is looking at bringing in small modular reactors (SMR) being developed by the United States to the Philippines, a ranking official said.

In an interview Thursday, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the Marcos administration is focused on pursuing more trade and economic activity with the US, especially in the area of addressing climate change and the development of clean energy.

“[T]he United States is offering us modular nuclear power plants, which hopefully will be available to us in the next couple of years to solve our energy problems. All of this is part and parcel of President Marcos’ objective of seeing the global economy to recover,” he said.

He said the US first offered the technology during a meeting between US climate envoy John Kerry and Southeast Asian diplomats at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.

“(Secretary John Kerry) clearly stated that this is going to be the wave of the future in terms of clean energy. So I think that that’s one area where we are really very interested in and hopefully we’ll be able to bring that here,” he said.

According to the US Department of Energy, the advanced SMR being developed by the US offers “relatively small physical footprints, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, and provisions for incremental power additions.”

SMRs, it said, also offer distinct safeguards, security and nonproliferation advantages.

Romualdez said the technology would be available late next year “at the earliest” and importing one would likely involve the new US International Development Finance Corporation.

“They will invest in something like this as a joint venture with a local company. I think several private companies are already looking into this — those that are involved in energy,” he said.

“We are hoping that there’ll be more private companies here in the Philippines that will look into this as a way of being able to accelerate our energy requirements for the future,” he added.

Oil exploration with US

Some American companies are also interested in investing in oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea.

“Mayroon namang interesado pero ang problema natin talaga is (There are those who are interested but our problem really is) we have to have a clear policy on how this would go about,” Romualdez said.

The envoy said many of the companies that wanted to enter the Philippines were mostly concerned about “ownership”.

“I think there’s already been an enabling law that was passed even during the administration of former President (Rodrigo) Duterte and we’re hoping to follow up on that one and there’d be a clear policy that will be given for investors,” he said.

“Of course, joint exploration is very important, that’s a natural resource of ours. Some laws have to more or less be either changed or enable private companies or companies interested in developing this area that will be equitable in a way,” he added.

The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, had terminated oil exploration talks with China after three years of negotiation.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said both sides got as far as constitutionally possible but another step forward would have risked a “constitutional crisis”. Beijing, meanwhile, hopes to revive the talks under Marcos. (MNS)