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Pandemic delays OCEA's P1.5 B shipyard project

Pandemic delays OCEA's P1.5 B shipyard project
July 14, 2021

THE Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has pushed back the planned P1.5 billion investment of French shipbuilder OCEA to build a shipyard in the Philippines, according to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made public OCEAN's plan to invest in a shipyard in the country following the conclusion of the 9th Philippine-France Joint Economic Committee (JEC) meeting on July 2.

Representatives of the two countries tackled during the meeting bilateral cooperation covering agriculture, civil aviation, aeronautics and space, creative industries, electronics, energy and green technology, and infrastructure and transportation, and the maritime and shipbuilding sectors.

Specifically, in the maritime and shipbuilding sectors, the French shipbuilder, which already built several patrol boats for the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG), has already met with concerned Marina officials early last year before the pandemic regarding its planned investment.

"Sure na iyon (OCEA'S investment), 99 %!" was the quick response of Engr. Ramon Hernandez, director of Shipyard Regulation Service (SRS) of MARINA, when asked about the plans of the French company that constructed PCG's first and most modern offshore patrol vessel (OPV), the 84-meter BRP Gabriela Silang.

SRS is in charge of regulating the country's shipbuilding and ship repair industry. Moreover, Engr. Hernandez is concurrently the Officer-in-Charge of the Maritime Safety Service (MSS) of MARINA, the office responsible for safety regulations of ships.

Engr. Hernandez further commented that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused delays in the OCEA shipyard project. "Kung hindi lang nagpandemic baka natuloy na iyan," he said.

When pressed if the French shipbuilder had already identified a particular site for the proposed shipyard, the Marina official said: "It's in the CALABARZON area," but did not mention any specific location.

"They already have an office here and they are now preparing for their papers with the DTI to be able to avail of the incentives under the Board of Investments," Engr. Hernandez said.

He projected that the construction for OCEA's shipyard project would likely start next year. According to the DTI, the shipyard is expected to generate an estimated 600 direct and indirect jobs, at least.

To underscore the intention to set up the company project, OCEA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Roland Joassard was present during the virtual high-level bilateral economic dialogue between the Philippines and France.

The Philippine officials were headed by Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, while his counterpart, Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester, led the French officials during the meeting.

Both countries agreed to convene the 10th Philippines-France JEC in 2022 in Paris.