The Department of Energy (DOE) will convene the relevant stakeholders in the gas sector, so it can finally ferret out definitive solution to the lingering gas production restriction at the Malampaya field.

DOE Director Mario Marasigan admitted that until this time, there are no concrete developments yet on how the constrained gas output from Malampaya can be addressed, hence, it will be needing the help of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), being the field operator; as well as the other members of the Service Contract 38 consortium and the owner and operator of the gas plants, to map out the details in fixing the gas field’s dilemma because that contributed to tightness of supply in the Luzon grid.

“We are coordinating for a meeting among all natural gas stakeholders to resolve the restriction,” the energy official stressed.

The limited output of the Malampaya field has been persisting since March and this led to the de-rated capacity of the gas plants, primarily the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan gas plant of which generation capacity was being cut to the level of just more than 700MW, or 358MW each for the two blocks this week because of scant gas fuel.

As of Thursday (June 3), system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has issued an advisory that Luzon grid was on “white alert”, meaning, supply level was normal mainly because of the relief brought in by the 647MW unit 2 of the Sual coal-fired power plant that had been synchronized back to the grid afternoon of June 2.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi tried to paint it to the media that it’s the first time rotational brownouts happened in the country, until he was flagged that worse cases of power outages actually distressed consumers in 2019 because brownouts then have been recurring from April to July.

“The last five years, this is the first time that this situation happened, that in some areas, we had rotational brownouts because of simultaneous breakdown of power plants with a capacity of more than 2,000MW,” the energy chief said.

Cusi had apparently forgotten that he apologized in a Senate hearing in 2019 because of supply deficient-induced brownouts; and those scenarios then mirrored the power interruption incidents early this week.

The DOE secretary also claimed that the DOE “built up capacity by more than 30-percent since we assumed our jobs,” but the 1,336MW Dinginin coal-fired plant in Mariveles, Bataan that he mentioned as their accomplishment was actually a “committed” project under the Aquino administration.

When he was asked on Senator Manny Pacquiao’s call for his resignation because of the messy handling of the country’s electricity supply situation, Cusi just forthrightly stated that like all Cabinet members, he

serves “at the pleasure of the President.”

The energy chief is brandishing that their main achievement is the updating of the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) that will stretch through 2040, but he has not given any list of major power projects that are already at shovel-ready stage, so these can fully support the country’s economic recovery in the short term.

“We have plans, our indicative power plants up to 2040, to make sure that we have sufficient power – supply of power in the coming years. All aspects of planning, we’ve already done,” Cusi asserted, adding

that nuclear and hydrogen will be part of the country’s energy mix.

Beyond the ‘indicative projects’ in the roll, the energy department cannot still give assurance also that the much needed investments will flow in, especially if additional base load capacities will be needed in the next 2-4 years as demand breaches available supply once again.

Source: Manila Bulletin (