Malampaya at standstill due to temporary plant shutdown

DOE’s new policy to protect consumers from price shocks during Malampaya maintenance

Gas-fired power plant operators are expressing their concerns regarding the recent ‘zero’ gas production rate at the Malampaya gas field last February 19.  

The prolonged gas restriction has forced power plants to consider liquefied natural gas (LNG), a more expensive alternative, which could increase electricity rates, as reported by the Manila Bulletin.

Companies had also officially reached out to gas field operator Prime Energy to seek clarification on the lack of Malampaya gas output, as the impact of the restriction could affect generating assets.

Energy Undersecretary Alessandro Sales explained that the shallow water platform (SWP) launched a normal plant shutdown to manage high gas export pipeline pressure during LNG commissioning activities at the First Gen plants on February 13. 

Corrosion was then discovered in a section of the SWP, requiring permanent repairs for safe operation.

However, Sales guaranteed that the plant had already resumed its operations and restrictions would now slowly tone down. The Undersecretary also emphasized that the repairs took time due to resource availability and mobilization.

Over 2,000 megawatts (MW) of power supply, including the Santa Rita, San Lorenzo, San Gabriel, and Avion plants of the First Gen group, depend on gas from the Malampaya field.

Despite the initial forecast of depletion by 2027, the Department of Energy has suggested that gas extraction from the field may still be feasible for several more years.

Earlier, the Malampaya consortium signed a new gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) with First Gen as the purchaser, supporting continued commercial production and planning for a new round of drilling at Service Contract 38. 
In 2023, the operating license of the Malampaya gas field project had been extended for 15 years, with the new consortium committing over $600 million in investments to revive the facility.