Gas will not flow yet from the Malampaya field, as the facility’s preventive maintenance shutdown has been extended for additional three days because of delayed repair works at its onshore platform’s flare tip.

As sounded off by Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the naturally occurring consequence of that stretched repair timeframe will be higher electric bills for Filipino consumers, because the gas plants will need to run on more expensive liquid fuel for longer duration.

According to field operator Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), start-up or return to operation of the platform “is now forecast for morning of October 25, and will steadily ramp up gas production to normal levels.”

The company explained that repair activities at the platform’s flare tip had been deferred due to the pummeling of typhoon Maring roughly two weeks ago.

“Winds of 25 knots and higher prevented us from safely doing work in the offshore platform for around four (4) days during the week of October 11-15,” SPEX emphasized.

The gas field operator qualified that “the main activity for the Malampaya scheduled shutdown is flare tip replacement of the offshore platform, but that’s the part of the work that had been significantly affected by typhoon Maring.”

SPEX expounded that the new flare tip weighs approximately two 4,500 kilograms and had to be lifted to a height of 55 meters, and that activity has to be done meticulously – and it was for that reason that the stormy weather hobbled the repair works.

The original maintenance downtime of the Malampaya facility had been set from October 2-2022; and by the strike of midnight on October 22, the field should have re-commenced on its gas production.

However, with the additional three days of delay, the country’s gas-fired power plants will need to run longer on liquid fuels for their electricity generation ventures.

Manifestly, the downside of that fuel shift will be highly probable rate spikes that would come off as added financial burden to Filipino ratepayers, especially with the prevailing skyrocketing oil prices in the world market.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has already indicated that the shutdown of the Malampaya gas production facility will likely result in higher electric bills for consumers; and that’s primarily because of the change of fuel use of the gas plants.

There are no specific calculations given by the department yet as to the cost impact of the 20-day maintenance downtime of the gas platform – and if there are mechanisms to soften the pass-on rate, such as reflecting the estimated rate hikes on staggered basis.

At least three major gas-fed power plants had to run on liquid fuel from October 2-25, including the 1,000MW Santa Rita and 500MW San Lorenzo electric generating facilities of First Gen; while the 1,200MW Ilijan gas plant had to be on de-rated capacity.

Source: Manila Bulletin (