Another Malampaya shutdown slated in March 2015
The energy department may ask for suspension of the Biofuels Act of 2006 to mitigate effects on possible power supply shortage due to the shutdown

HIGHER ELECTRICITY BILL? It remains to be seen if the scheduled Malampaya shutdown in March 2015 will result in higher electricity bills for Meralco customers. File photo by AFP/Jay Directo

MANILA, Philippines – The Malampaya natural gas facility is again scheduled to undergo a 30-day shutdown possibly in March next year.

As such, the Department of Energy (DOE) may possibly ask for a suspension of the Biofuels Act of 2006 to mitigate effects on possible power supply shortage.

The Malampaya consortium will commence Phase 3 of the project tentatively set in March 2015. Work will involve the installation of a platform aimed at maintaining the fuel supply to power plants providing half of Luzon’s power needs, DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said Monday, July 7.

“The earliest could be in March. It’s not going to work if we delay it further,” Petilla said when asked why work for Phase 3 could not be scheduled before or after summer months when supply is not at its peak.

When asked if the Malampaya shutdown next year may lead to another power rate hike similar to the P4.15 ($0.10*) per kilowatt hour (kWh) increase in the charges of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), “it’s the supply that I’m more concerned rather than the price,” saying that “no power is expensive power,” Petilla replied.

The Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo power plants of the Lopez group can run on expensive liquid fuel when Malampaya is offline. The Ilijan power plant, meanwhile, can run on diesel. Ilijan is operated by Korea Electric Power (KEPCO).

The problem, however, is when Ilijan runs on diesel. The Ilijan’s capacity will be reduced to 420 megawatt (MW) from 600 MW per unit because under the Biofuels Act, a 2% biodiesel (diesel with coco methyl ester) blend is required for all retail pumps and power plants running on diesel, Petilla explained.

When such happens, the Ilijan power plant’s efficiency level will be reduced and its capacity would not be maximized.

“If we suspend the biofuels law, there will be additional 180 MW from only 420 MW. We are looking at the legal aspect of a possible suspension,” the energy chief said.

Biodiesel has a detrimental effect on turbines due to biodiesel components, an industry expert commented.

The Malampaya consortium is composed of the DOE and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX). The Malampaya facility fuels 3 power plants: the 1,000 megawatt (MW) Sta. Rita, 500 MW San Lorenzo, and 1,200 MW Ilijan in Luzon.

The Malampaya gas field off Palawan is estimated to contain 2.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 85 million barrels of condensate. However, the facility is expected to run out of gas by 2024. –




*($1 = P43.51)

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