Operations Resume from Malampaya Field

Shell has resumed operations at its Malampaya natural gas field over the weekend after a week-long shutdown of its production platform, a company spokesman said Tuesday. "The platform was shut for safety and maintenance work," said Ding Roco, Shell Philippines spokesman. "There were no problems at the platform."

Shell had planned to shut the platform for only one to three days for maintenance work, Roco said, but the shutdown was extended due to technical issues, which have been resolved. "There was some disagreement over whether a part was ready or not," Roco said, not going further into the technical details. He said the platform is currently producing sufficient natural gas volume to meet requirements from its only gas customer - the 1,000-megawatt Santa Rita power plant.

Roco said First Gas Power Corp., which operates the Santa Rita plant, was informed of the gas supply halt ahead of the platform shutdown. A First Gas official said there were no power disruptions at the Santa Rita plant resulting from the week-long halt in Malampaya gas supply. The Santa Rita plant switched to its backup fuels - condensates, naphtha and gasoil, the official said. First Gas is a unit of First Philippine Holdings Corp. "We had our oil supply; we had no power disruptions last week," he said.

In case of supply disruptions from Malampaya, First Gas holds oil products, primarily condensates, in tanks nearby its Santa Rita and San Lorenzo power plants, which are located in Batangas province, sufficient to keep the plants operating for 30 days. The 500-MW San Lorenzo plant is currently in the commissioning process and will be fully operational by July, the First Gas official said.

Roco said the Malampaya field is currently producing 180 million to 200 million standard cubic feet a day of natural gas. The field will be producing about 500 million standard cubic feet/day of natural gas by June or July this year, when all three power plants, including the 1,200-MW Ilijan power plant, will be running. Roco said the company has scheduled another maintenance shutdown for the Malampaya production platform in September.

The Malampaya field, located offshore Palawan island, has proven reserves of 2.7 trillion cubic feet of gas and 85 million barrels of condensate. Production from the Malampaya gas field began in late September last year, when Shell, the field's operator, delivered gas to the Santa Rita power plant.