Developing the Sampaguita natural gas field as an energy source for the Philippines will need the support of both the government and China.
This was the sentiment of House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza when he talked to Manila Bulletin reporters.
“The Sampaguita gas discovery is vital to our future energy security. It has become absolutely imperative for us to quickly develop Sampaguita, before Malampaya’s gas production starts to fall off in 2024,” Atienza was quoted as saying.
“We really wish that the Philippines and China, through effective diplomacy, can arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement that would expedite the resumption of all work around Sampaguita,” he added.
The Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project still provides up to 3,400 MW of power for the Luzon grid.
However, Energy officials predicted that by 2024, Malampaya would decrease its output to just one-third of its current capacity.
This will result in just 1,100 MW of electricity for Luzon, according to Atienza.
“Clearly, if we are unable to harness the gas from Sampaguita in time, Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces might reel from considerably higher electricity rates,” Atienza said.
According to assessment done by Weatherford Petroleum Consultants, the Sampaguita gas field “is estimated to contain 2.6 trillion cubic feet of in-place contingent resources and 5.5 trillion cubic feet of in-place prospective resources.”
Sampaguita is part of Service Contract 72 Recto Bank in offshore West palawan, a part of territorial waters challenged by China.
The Aquino administration in December 2014 ordered a cease of operations to the private consortium operating SC 72 in deference to the maritime case that the Philippines filed against China before The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The PCA eventually ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and recognized the Recto Bank, where SC 72 lies, as part of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
However, despite the favorable PCA ruling, the Energy department has not lifted the suspension of all work on SC 72.