MANILA, Philippines - The country’s energy chief is keeping his fingers crossed that the Luzon grid’s power situation would remain stable even as the critical summer season sets in.
“I’m happy....Demand is low because there’s a bit of rain...I think we can survive this summer,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said.
He attributed the low demand to consumer’s growing awareness on the need to conserve energy such as keeping airconditioning units at 25 degrees Celsius.
At the same time, Petilla said power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) cannot relax just yet because demand may go up after the Holy Week break.
“If it becomes too warm (after the Holy Week), the chances of power plants having forced outages are higher,” he said. Hydropower plants will also not be able to work as efficiently if it gets too hot.
“We’re still doing all the projections on a weekly basis so far all I can say is that in the next four weeks, we’re going to be okay,” Petilla said.
“I am confident that we can survive this summer but it is because of the cooperation of everybody. The plants, for instance, have adjusted their maintenance schedules,” he added.
As of yesterday, the Luzon grid had reserves of 1,041 megawatts with available capacity at 9,057 MW and demand at 7,707 MW, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).
There is a projected power supply shortage of 700 MW this summer due to the one-month maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas field in offshore Palawan.
The shutdown commenced on March 15 and will last until April 13. It has put the Luzon grid in a critical supply situation as Malampaya supplies 40 percent of the grid’s requirements.
However, while many blame the Malampaya consortium for the power shortfall this summer, the Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), the upstream company of energy giant Shell, said foregoing the shutdown would put the field’s output at risk.
“Malampaya is undertaking a critical milestone in 2015, the tie-in of the second offshore platform that will help sustain the 2,700-MW production level of the three power plants it supplies. This will address the natural decrease in pressure of the reservoir and help ensure long term energy security for the country,” SPEX said.
The three plants that source fuel from the Malampaya natural gas field are the 1,200-MW Ilijan, 1,000-MW Santa Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo natural gas plants.
The consortium is currently working on the second and third phase expansion of the Malampaya project. The installation of a new platform is part of the third phase expansion.
According to the consortium, the second phase of the Malampaya project entails the drilling and development of two additional wells at a cost of $250 million while the third phase involves the installation of a new platform where additional equipment and facilities will be housed at a cost of $750 million.
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