By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. asked the Department of Energy (DOE) on January 19, Sunday to ensure that Luzon’s energy infrastructure in Batangas province has not been compromised following the Taal Volcano’s phreatic eruption last week.
He made the call following concerns that the January 12 Taal Volcano’s “explosive eruption” might affect vital power plants as well as oil and gas installations in Batangas.
“There are concerns that the volcano’s looming violent flare-up might get in the way of the operations of vital power plants as well as oil and gas installations in Batangas,” Campos said in a statement.
“Apart from the vulnerability of (power plant) turbines to damage from severe ashfall, there are also concerns about the sensitivity of fuel facilities in the province to recurring volcanic tremors,” he said.
Citing the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), he said Taal’s threatening “explosive eruption” could send a cloud of rocks, dust, gas and pyroclastic materials into the atmosphere, which may then collapse and create a fast-moving flow of hot volcanic matter.
Campos said if needed, the DOE should immediately come up with contingency plans.
He noted that Batangas houses seven power plants with an aggregate installed capacity of 4,305 megawatts (MW), or one-third of Luzon’s power generating capacity.
These plants are: First Gen Corp.’s 1,000-MW Sta. Rita Combined Cycle Power Plant, 500-MW San Lorenzo Combined Cycle Power Plant, 414-MW San Gabriel Combined Cycle Power Plant, and 97-MW Avion Open Cycle Power Plant, all in Batangas City; SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.’s 1,200-MW Ilijan Combined Cycle Power Plant, also in Batangas City; Semirara Mining and Power Corp.’s 850-MW Coal-Fired Power Plant in the Municipality of Calaca; and AC Energy Philippines Inc.’s 244-MW Circulating Fluidized Bed Thermal Power Plant, also in Calaca.
First Gen earlier said while, the operations of its energy complex remain uninterrupted, it recognized that “accumulating ashfall has the potential to cause damage to the plants’ gas turbines, which in turn could affect their ability to deliver power.”
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., which operates a 110,000-barrel per day oil refinery in Batangas City, had described as “normal” its business operations”, while it “remains alert.”
Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. also runs a petrochemicals terminal in Calaca.
The Philvocs said a series of volcanic tremors struck Calaca, which lies just outside the designated 14-kilometer danger zone around Taal.
Volcanic tremors are long-period earthquakes produced by vibrations generated by the underground movement of magma or other fluids within the volcano, it said.