As gas restriction predicament at the Malampaya field recurred on Monday (June 21), the country’s gas plants have been adversely impacted anew on their electricity generation and that prompted either de-rating of their capacity or they needed to shift to condensate fuel.

According to sources, the generation of the Ilijan plant, in particular, had been reduced by 488 megawatts due to fuel lack, hence, the facility had just been feeding 700MW to the grid out of its installed capacity of 1,200MW.

On the part of the First Gen plants, it was noted that four generating units had been affected, and that necessitated the facilities’ shift to condensate fuel, which is more expensive compared to Malampaya gas.

As of Tuesday, Manila Electric Company (Meralco) Vice President Lawrence S. Fernandez indicated that Luzon grid was still on “while alert”, meaning, it is on stable-supply demand condition.

At around 2:00pm, which has been the regarded peak hour in the afternoon, it was emphasized that demand was hovering at 10,339MW while available capacity was estimated at 11,965MW, hence, the overall picture still portended very slim supply margin.

Industry sources noted that the grid can still hold because of relatively lower temperatures – which for every one degree lower heat index, this could bring down electricity demand by 100MW.

On the recurring gas restriction quandary, the affected plants have been seeking direct pronouncement from the Department of Energy (DOE) as to the real state of gas production in the country and when is the exact depletion of the Malampaya field.

Relative to that, DOE Director Mario C. Marasigan stated that the department “will have meeting with the concerned entities,” and the government will soon apprise the public on a clearer picture as to the events and industry incidents affecting Luzon grid.

Restriction in gas production at Malampaya first strained electricity generation of the gas plants from March 31 to June 14 this year; then after just a week of relatively stable production, the problem persisted again this week.

In a statement to the media, Bayan Mura Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate warned that the Philippines is in for a “much bigger energy problem” with anticipated gas depletion at the Malampaya field.

“If we are being threatened by yellow and red alerts, as well as rotational brownouts now, then we will have a bigger energy problem next year if Malampaya conks out or its gas production is drastically reduced,” he stressed.

The lawmaker added such conundrum of fuel lack for the gas plants will run more critical next year with the forthcoming elections, “and we are yet in the midst of a crisis aggravated by the pandemic.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (