For Tonet Quiogue, going green means going hand-in-hand.
When people imagine jobs that help nature, the first picture that usually comes to mind is an environmental scientist in a lab coat.
Then there are the likes of lawyer Marie Antonette “Tonet” Quiogue, non-STEM professionals who are quietly turning clean energy into a possible dream.
Quiogue admitted that she did not start her legal career thinking or planning to help or specialize in the environment.
Prior to law, she produced and hosted television shows and documentaries as a broadcast journalist. She then graduated valedictorian from the De La Salle University-Far Eastern University MBA-JD dual degree program, before later taking her Master of Laws at Columbia University.
Now she is the group general counsel and executive vice president of transactions of the AG&P Group, one of the world’s fastest-growing downstream liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas logistics companies.
The company hopes to lead the energy transition to cleaner fuels in South and Southeast Asia as well as globally through natural gas, which it says reduces pollution and helps maintain a healthy environment.
“What I can say is that throughout my legal career, I have always tried to use my work and the projects that I am involved in to contribute to the world, be it in energy or technology. I think it comes to a point when you are working 16 to 18 hours a day, you want to find purpose in what you are doing,” Quiogue tells Lifestyle Asia.
In fact, this “purpose” would ultimately extend beyond herself into her work.
“In my work as the ‘chief negotiator,’ my job is also about finding alignments and a common purpose with the people that I am opposite the negotiating table with,” Quiogue rationalizes.
It is thanks to this mindset that the lawyer has been able to lead consequential deals. These include the closing of over $400 million in equity investments into the AG&P Group, as well as financing of global clean energy-related investments in India and the Philippines.
The most notable of which is commissioning the first LNG import facility in the country in 2022. Namely, the Philippines LNG Import Terminal is a step closer to fruition thanks to the hard work of the AG&P Group.
For Quiogue, this is proof that the energy transition can be done. As to whether the public perceives these steps as gradual or radical, no one can debate that it’s certainly progress.
“The import terminal is a major step in this direction. And as a member of the private sector, AG&P is doing its part. It is also helpful to know that Congress supports this move. As there have been pending bills that seek to increase our country’s supply of natural gas and develop its infrastructure…that we hope will address the challenges that may be encountered during this transition phase,” Quiogue celebrates.
Of course, this also entails that the company’s key legal and commercial negotiator works closely with government agencies. Strategic transactions, after all, require a resource person to act for energy and its related laws.
This is why Quiogue sees environmental advocacy as a two-way street that requires the cooperation of all parties.
“Most people think that being a lawyer is more about arguing and debating—that’s only a small part of it. My job is always trying to find the best compromise and to ensure that no one feels that they are getting a bad deal,” Quiogue contextualizes.
The lawyer occupies her time with transactions, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, contracts, legal advice, strategies, and more. But ultimately, the goal is clear.
“I think the effects of climate change have never been as noticeable to us as this last summer… In the Philippines, climate change and extreme temperatures have a negative effect on agriculture and food production. Not to mention the disastrous health effects of the use of climate-polluting fuels that emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide,” Quiogue underscores.
She cited how coal has been the option for baseload power requirements, especially among emerging economies like the Philippines. This is due to its low price and relative accessibility, in spite of its environmental consequences.
The upside, according to her, is there’s clearly a demand for clean, competitive fuel to respond to growing energy requirements. She added that their team is working with the Philippine government to supply Filipinos with clean and reliable energy.
“The Philippine government, in particular the Department of Energy, has been keen on the development of LNG and its entry into the Philippine energy mix, especially with Malampaya’s contract set to expire by 2024. Our country’s energy security depends on the reliable supply of natural gas. Since Malampaya supplies most of the power for Luzon,” Quiogue explains.
Although the LNG and NG market shows ongoing price volatility and supply disruptions, Quiogue said these are just short-term challenges.
“The prospects for the future are bright. Overall, there is a shift to clean energy, which is a major boost to LNG-based projects. Further, countries are increasingly moving away from coal and traditional polluting fuels. LNG and NG will work together with renewable energy to ensure a stable power grid. We will continue to develop our LNG terminals and downstream networks. And unlock new and emerging markets to provide access to clean fuel,” Quiogue concluded.