MALAMPAYA project extension pressed

August 04, 2020

CONGRESSMEN belonging to the "power bloc" of the House of Representatives urged the extension of the Malampaya power gas-to-power project, to prevent a looming energy crisis brought about by heightened demand and thinning resources.

In yesterday’s virtual Kapihan ng Samahang Plaridel,  entitled Energy Independence Crucial to National Security, several industry leaders and Congress officials came together to discuss this looming energy crisis and possible solutions to address it.

“We need to fast-track the development of our energy supply,” asserted Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Rozzano Briguez, President and CEO of The Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC). “We envision exploring new oil and gas sources to augment our Malampaya reserves.”

Members of the House of Representatives have filed House Resolution No. 1063, which calls for the implementation of national defense and security policies to attain independent and sustainable energy supply, while also focusing on extending the life of the Malampaya plant.

“Malampaya plays a vital role in energy security,” affirmed PHILRECA party-list Rep. Presley C. De Jesus. At the same time, he challenged: “Is it enough? That’s the question. Natural gas is very affordable and dependable. Energy independence would help us sustain our rapid development.”

Indeed, the issue of energy security has long-term repercussions that go beyond the power industry. “Energy security is a crucial factor in protecting and upholding our national sovereignty, so we can keep domestic economies running at full power,” said APEC party-list Rep. Sergio C. Dagooc. He pointed out that with COVID-19 causing a strain on the global supply chain, it is no longer practical to keep relying on foreign fuel sources.

Another congressman, Ako Padayon party-list Rep. Adriano A. Ebcas, made an urgent forewarning: “Unless the government quickly addresses all these energy issues and rising demands, the Philippines may face an acute power shortage. These power shortages can have far-reaching effects—from access to energy and high energy cost, to livelihood, education, and of course, national security.”

At the same time, Philippine Energy Independence Council Director Don Paulino pointed out why the speedy acceleration of the development of more energy resources can become an investment in the country’s future. He said, “This country will have further growth, social mobility, and deeper impact on society if we have energy security and independence. Energy demand will increase as the Philippines continues to grow. We need two to three times the supply we have right now.” He added: This brings opportunities---now (we) have an opportunity to develop our indigenous, renewable, and clean energy and transition from coal. This will result in more efficient and affordable energy.”

The  continuous operations of Malampaya is critical to ensuring a sustainable, uninterrupted supply of energy. Currently, it powers 30% of the country, especially Luzon, with natural, indigenous gas, and accounts for 98% of domestic oil and gas production. As one of the most successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements in the Philippines, it proves the country’s potential for energy security and independence.

Close collaboration between the public and private sector is of prime importance, especially when it comes to effective energy exploration and development, emphasized Quezon City Rep. Godofredo N. Guya from Recoboda Partylist. He said, “Now is not the time to get carried away with legal battles. We must tap the private and public sector to improve capacity and supply, and attract more investors.”

Speaking on behalf of 121 electric cooperatives around the country, Atty. Janene Depay Colingan, General Manager of PhilReca, stressed the urgency of energy exploration efforts. “Electric cooperatives are exerting effort in energizing far-flung areas,” said Colingan. “But we can only achieve energy security with the partnership of all sectors in energy.”

The achievement of national system-wide resilience is a matter of national collaboration. All the major players involved can work together to ensure that no sector or area in the country is lagging when it comes to the supply of power and energy, but the pressure to act immediately is on.

Rep. Dagooc also reminded everyone of one reason why the House of Representatives filed the Bill on Renewable Energy:  “The purpose why we filed this bill is for the House of Representatives to review our energy policies so we can transition to energy independence.”