The reserves of the Malampaya gas field may hit nearly rock bottom as early as next year, according to an official of the Department of Energy (DOE).
Based on a Manila Bulletin report, the anonymous official said that gas output won’t necessarily hit zero by then, but would rather substantially decline. This would also mean that gas restrictions would worsen.
The official added that the gas sale and purchase agreement for Ilijan is only valid until next year since 2022 had been strategically calculated as Malampaya’s depletion year.
Malampaya’s gas production was restricted from March 31-June 13, which resulted in the derating of the Ilijan power plant from 1,200 megawatts (MW) to 716MW, eventually contributing to the recent Red Alerts and rotating brownouts in Luzon.
Industry sources have emphasized that the recent 75-day gas restriction was mainly caused by Malampaya’s depleting supply, based on reports submitted to the DOE.
Last month, Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian said that the gas field’s reserves are to be completely depleted by 2027, citing DOE data. Meanwhile, the Malampaya consortium told the DOE back in November 2020 that the gas field can still produce up to 1.6 trillion cubic feet.
An increase in the gas field’s production would require the drilling of new wells, which in turn would need an extension of the Malampaya consortium’s Service Contract 38.
The consortium is currently composed of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) and the Udenna Group of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, which own 45% each; and PNOC-Exploration Corporation, which holds the remaining ten percent. Udenna bought SPEX in May and is expected to have control of Malampaya in the coming months.