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March 22, 2016

Convert Malampaya rigs into prison – lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines – A party-list lawmaker urged the government yesterday to plan for the eventual closure of the Malampaya natural gas plant off Palawan.

“The Malampaya gas wells are bound to dry up, be plugged and abandoned, along with the platforms,” Rep. Arnel Ty of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association, said.

Ty, a deputy minority leader, has been urging the government to invest in modern warships to secure the West Philippine Sea’s oil and gas deposits amid the country’s long-running dispute with China over territorial waters.

He said the Malampaya rigs are two large adjacent structures with facilities to extract natural gas and oil from undersea reservoirs.

“The platforms are built to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. One of the rigs can house 60 workers and has a helipad,” he said.

He said the Bureau of Corrections could transform the platforms into a high security prison, where it would be difficult for inmates to escape.

 “The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources could also use the rigs for a marine research hub or the Navy could convert them into an outpost,” he said.

Besides its vast hydrocarbon deposits that could help assure the country’s long-term energy requirements, the West Philippine Sea is also home to 20 percent of the country’s fisheries catch and serves as a breeding ground for high-value aquatic resources that have to be protected to sustain the local commercial fishing industry, he added.

Discovered in 1991, the Malampaya gas field began commercial production in 2002. The field’s gas is conveyed through a 504-kilometer, 24-inch pipeline to Batangas City, where the fuel drives three power plants with a combined 2,700 megawatts in full generating capacity.

Located 80 kilometers off northwest Palawan, Malampaya has proven reserves of about 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is expected to last until 2024, depending on how aggressively the fuel is harvested.

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