Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project; Source: Shell

Philippine gas field braves typhoon with no disruption in supply

A deepwater gas field offshore the Philippines operated by Prime Energy Resources Development, a subsidiary of Prime Infrastructure Capital Inc., has continued to supply natural gas to gas-fired power plants as a typhoon reached the country, forcing several power plants to shut down.

Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project; Source: Shell

According to its operator, the Malampaya gas field remained at full capacity to provide gas on demand during typhoon Aghon, which caused a major decrease in available power supply. The infrastructure at the field is designed to withstand adverse weather conditions, helping provide stable and reliable electricity for Filipino consumers.

The field forms part of the deepwater gas-to-power project described as one of the largest and most significant industrial endeavors in Philippine history. The indigenous natural gas from the field supplies four power plants in Luzon, the country’s largest island. Their combined capacity of 3,200 megawatts is said to power 20% of the island. 

Donnabel Kuizon Cruz, Managing Director and General Manager of Prime Energy, noted: “Prime Energy and its partners in the Malampaya consortium remain committed to supporting the Department of Energy’s (DOE) drive to keep the grid stable by ensuring uninterrupted operations and fuel supply to power generators during extreme weather.”

The DOE reported that the operation at multiple base load power plants was stopped due to harsh weather conditions, including the 1,200-MW Ilijan power plant. The floating storage unit (FSU) at the facility had to be unberthed and relocated for safety reasons, leaving the station without liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is its power source.

Furthermore, the Pagbilao Units 1, 2, and 3, Masinloc, SPBL, and Botocan coal-fired power plants with a total of 1,995 MW were shut down due to the typhoon. After the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) issued a red alert notice, DOE Secretary Raphael Lotilla introduced energy-saving measures in Luzon.

“Malampaya will always be ready to provide reliable natural gas. This situation demonstrates the critical role Malampaya plays in the nation’s energy security,” underlined Cruz.

When yellow and red alerts were issued in April, Malampaya delivered more than its export capacity, reaching 290 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD), compared to the previous maximum capacity of 262 MMSCFD.

Prime Energy plans to invest up to $800 million in the Malampaya field life extension by drilling two deepwater development wells in the Camago and Malampaya East fields, and a third exploration well, Bagong Pagasa.

Noble Corporation’s Noble Viking drillship was hired to spud these wells, with an additional one-well option, at the Malampaya-Camago project. The drilling campaign is scheduled to start in Q2 2025. 

In a bid to secure ample energy for its gas-fired power plants, the country’s utility First Gen announced that it is looking for contracts with longer duration to provide enough energy for the country’s grid in the long run. The announcement came after the firm received its fourth LNG shipment in the past 12 months at the interim offshore LNG terminal in Batangas City.

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