Malampaya gas restriction finally lifted

Published June 15, 2021, 1:58 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The gas output restriction of the Malampaya field was finally lifted on Monday (June 14) and that could help Luzon grid supply to chill for the meantime because that could add capacity generation, according to industry stakeholders.

The Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed the resolution of Malampaya’s fuel dilemma, but it remains as the energy sector’s “greatest mystery” why the restricted production from the gas field actually occurred from March 31 to June 13 this year.

Until yesterday, no relevant stakeholder had been informed why the limited fuel production had to aggravate situation in the main power grid – which in the process, had partly ignited the hissy fits of rotational brownouts recently.

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)

When asked on the matter, DOE Director Mario C. Marasigan indicated that the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, which he heads, has yet to reconcile information and data with the upstream gas bureau at the department.

The energy department earlier planned to carry out collaborative consultation with relevant industry players to sort out solution to the gas restriction problem of the Malampaya field, but the lifting apparently came even before that targeted meeting was set.

When Malampaya’s output was constricted for roughly 75 days, Luzon grid has been losing capacity of 450 to 500 megawatts from the gas-fed plants; and that had exerted further pressure on thinning supply while Filipinos wade through scorching weather at summer’s peak.

With more gas fuel that the plants can latch onto for electricity generation, the grid can expect supply shoring up, while other capacity additions are expected to be back from generating units that suffered forced outages as well as those getting synchronized back to the grid after scheduled preventive maintenance.

The DOE earlier expected also the resumption of testing and commissioning at the 668MW unit 1 of the GNPower Dinginin plant, but this encountered snag this week following additional technical glitches still being fixed in the power facility.

As gathered, GNPower Dinginin cannot connect back to the grid yet because 380 of its welds still have problems, so the boiler tubes will need to undergo another round of x-ray to ensure that all technical hiccups would be addressed.

Forecasts remain that Luzon grid supply will repeatedly teeter on the edge of rotational brownouts if the simultaneous outages of power plants will persist.

Power plant operators and owners have constantly raised their concerns on the delayed arrival of equipment and spare parts for the repair of their facilities; delayed or non-arrival of foreign consultants for their maintenance activities as well as the movement restrictions of their own people to be at the plant site for the needed repair activities.

These dilemmas of the power plants have been lingering since January this year, but after six months, definitive actions from relevant government agencies have yet to be rendered.