THE nation’s energy security has been reinforced on account of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “bold decision” to lift the five-year-old moratorium on gas exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.
“There’s no question the development of the Sampaguita gas discovery in Recto Bank (formerly Reed Bank) is vital to our long-term energy security,” Pimentel said, calling Sampaguita the next Malampaya.
Sampaguita’s private developers plan to build a shorter subsea pipeline (from Sampaguita) to Malampaya, and then Malampaya’s existing 504-kilometer, 24-inch pipeline would be used to deliver all the gas to landfall in Batangas, according to Pimentel.
“There’s definitely a lot of gas in Sampaguita, possibly more than Malampaya. The developers just need to drill a few more wells to figure out the best way to get the gas out,” Pimentel said.
The Sampaguita gas field is located some 250 kilometers southwest of the Malampaya deep-water gas-to-power project in northwest Palawan.
Sampaguita “is estimated to contain 2.6 trillion cubic feet of in-place contingent resources and 5.5 trillion cubic feet of in-place prospective resources,” according to Weatherford Petroleum Consultants.
The now 19-year-old Malampaya gas-to-power project still generates up to 3,400 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the Luzon grid. However, Department of Energy (DoE) officials previously told a congressional hearing that by 2024, Malampaya’s gas output would fall to just one-third of current capacity.
They implied that four years from now, Malampaya’s diminishing gas reserves would be able to produce just 1,100 MW of electricity for Luzon.
Sampaguita lies in Service Contract (SC) 72, which is among the beneficiaries of the lifting of the moratorium on gas exploration.
SC 72 is controlled by Manuel Pangilinan’s PXP Energy Corp. and Enrique Razon Jr.’s Apex Mining Co. Inc. (through Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc.).
Both PXP and Apex are publicly traded on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The Aquino administration in December 2015 placed all gas and oil exploration activities around the Recto Bank area under force majeure on account of international maritime issues.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has since ruled that Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.