Malampaya gas restriction de-rates Ilijan plant’s power generation

Published April 16, 2021, 12:11 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The recurring gas production restriction from the Malampaya field will de-rate anew the electricity generation of the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan gas-fired power facility in Batangas, one of the biggest power plants in the country.

In an advisory sent by state-run National Power Corporation to plant operator Korea Electric Power Corporation and independent power producer administrator (IPPA) South Premiere Power Corporation of the San Miguel group, it was stated that Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) advised on Thursday (April 15) that it “will further restrict the gas fuel supply for the Ilijan plant to 5,643 GJ (gigajoules) per hour.”

The Malampaya gas field uses an innovative and sustainable deepwater technology for recovering natural gas from the deepwater reservoir in northwest Palawan. ( note: image from – google)

Hence, with that rate of gas supply being fed to the facility, the Ilijan plant’s resulting generation will be de-rated to 720MW per hour, starting on April 15 at 8:00pm; or a reduction of at least 480MW vis-à-vis its installed capacity.

NPC said there is no specific timeframe yet on when the gas supply restriction from Malampaya will ease, but it apprised the Ilijan plant operator that it will advise on “any changes regarding the status of the gas fuel supply as they become available.”

Last April 9, it was also reported by system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) that the 414-MW San Gabriel gas fired power plant “went on shutdown due to SPEX gas supply restriction.”

The restrained flow of gas supply from the Malampaya facility is seen among the factors influencing price spikes in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) – and if that system condition is sustained until April 26, it has high probability that it will trigger higher electric bills for consumers in the May billing cycle.

Based on data gathered from industry sources, “beginning on April 12 (Monday), daytime WESM prices have already been going up to as high as P20 per kilowatt hour.”

Apart from gas supply curtailment, concerns have likewise been incessantly raised on the simultaneous outages of power plants – and these are happening at the thick of summer months when consumers’ demand for electricity usually hits peak.

There are also fears that the de-rated generation as well as the forced outages in power generating units could eventually result in shortage of supply, and the worst case scenario could be brownouts, if these snags in the power system would not be prudently addressed at the soonest possible time.

The Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), which is the entity overseeing trading and the operations of the WESM, already reported surges in spot prices – in fact, it already roughly doubled to P4.16 per kWh as of the first week of April compared to a low of just over P2.00 per kWh in February.

Summer months are typically the higher-priced period for electricity tariffs being passed on to consumers, thus, the reported fuel supply restrictions as well as plant outages have been causing worries especially to the front-lining distribution utilities because it becomes their responsibility to explain these cost increases to their customers.