Malampaya future mulled
WHAT to do with the Malampaya platforms once the gas runs out?
This is the question LPG-MA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty posed to the government, in anticipation of the possible scenario of no longer productive oil rigs in the West Philippine Sea.
According to Ty, while the Malampaya offshore natural gas field in northwest Palawan will remain highly productive for more years, time will come that it will eventually run dry.
Because of this Ty urged the government to plan ahead and make a study on the possible practical uses for the two massive oil rigs in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Malampaya gas wells are bound to dry up, be plugged and abandoned, along with the platforms,” Ty said.
Ty suggested that once vacated, the rigs could be converted by the Philippine Navy into a military outpost.
He has been urging government to invest in modern warships to secure the West Philippine Sea’s oil and gas deposits, amid the country’s simmering dispute with China over territorial waters.
At present, the Philippine Marine Corps is using what is left of the World War II vintage BRP Sierra Madre as a makeshift garrison 150 kilometers off northwest Palawan. The rotting ship is grounded atop an atoll in the Spratly Islands.
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.
On the other hand, Ty said, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) could also use the rigs for a marine research hub. Even the Bureau of Corrections can opt to transform the platforms into a high security prison.
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.
Discovered in 1991, the Malampaya gas field began commercial production in 2002. The field’s gas is conveyed via 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.
Based on geological surveys, the United States Energy Information Administration estimates that the West Philippine Sea may contain up to 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.4 billion barrels of oil, “with the bulk of the resources likely located in the contested Reed Bank at the northeast end of the Spratly Islands.”