THE Philippines is open to exploration of potential gas fields that remained untapped, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Saturday.
Energy Undersecretary Alessandro Sales said the agency could entertain investors interested in tapping the country’s potential power resources.
“The more important thing here is the Philippines’ openness for oil and gas exploration),” Sales said during the Saturday news forum in Quezon City.
“There are still many potential areas in the country, not just Malampaya, that have huge gas deposits,” he added.
Sales said the government supports upstream exploration and production of oil and gas, despite the country’s full commitment to decarbonization to cope with growing demands.
On Monday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approved the extension of Service Contract No. 38 for the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project until Feb. 2039.
The renewal is seen to add at least $600 million worth of investments for drilling two wells and subsea facilities, Sales said.
He explained that a contract renewal has to be signed to produce the remaining gas reserve after 2024.
“It’s about 80 to 140 BCF (billion cubic feet) that would have been stranded if the contract was not renewed. In the renewal agreement, it is also required that the consortium conduct near field appraisal and development. This is to add reserves and increase the production of the Malampaya field,” he said.
“Initially, based on technical review, potentially there is an additional 210 BCF that can be developed close to the existing Malampaya field. So this would require drilling of wells and substantial subsea work to tie back the new production wells into the existing Malampaya production facilities. So this is a firm commitment as part of the renewal agreement,” Sales added.
The Malampaya gas-to-power project is one of the country’s vital power assets, being the only natural gas field in the country. It was discovered in 1989, but operations started in 2001, in which the initial license is set to expire in February 2024.
Malampaya supplies 20 percent of Luzon’s total power requirements with clean natural gas to five power plants — the 1,200-megawatt (MW) Sta. Rita power plant, the 500-MW San Lorenzo power plant, the 1,200-MW Ilijan power plant, the 414-MW San Gabriel power plant, and the 97-MW Avion power plant.
The Malampaya project was expected to reduce the country’s dependence on oil imports and ensure a more stable supply of cleaner energy from an indigenous source.