The natural gas resources on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) are so vast that the fuel there can energize the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids for at least 20 years, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) said on Sunday.
“This is one of the compelling reasons why we have to secure our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone and its contiguous area, including the seabed of the continental shelf up to 350 miles from the national coastal baseline. We have to defend the zone against China and other foreign threats,” LPGMA Rep. Arnel Ty, who is also the House Deputy Minority Leader, said.
“In fact, we should invest in new warships, including frigates, missile gunboats and fast attack crafts, for deployment to the zone. We should build a strong naval base in northwest Palawan,” Ty, speaking for the minority bloc in the House energy committee, added.
The country’s territory in the WPS is believe to have a number of Malampaya-like natural gas fields, the lawmaker said.
“We only need to harness three more Malampaya-like fields to power up the whole country. And we’ve already discovered one of the three. It is just a question of exploring some more to ascertain where best to drill and draw out the greatest amount of gas,” he explained.
He was referring to the Recto Bank’s Sampaguita field, which is estimated to contain up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The field lies just 80 nautical miles northwest off the Palawan coast.
Since natural gas trades at a discount, electricity would be cheaper, thus freeing up business and household incomes for other forms of spending.
“We need a cleaner source of power. We have to rely more on natural gas, and less on coal and oil to produce the bulk of our electricity,” Ty said.
“Among fossil fuels, natural gas contains the least carbon dioxide and burns more efficiently,” he pointed out.
In the case of Malampaya, the field’s natural gas displaces around 1.35 million kilograms of carbon dioxide per hour that otherwise would be polluting our air,” the lawmaker said.
Discovered in 1991, the Malampaya field in northwest Palawan began commercial production in 2002. Malampaya has proven reserves of about 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is expected to last until 2024 to 2030, depending on how aggressively the fuel is harvested.
As of March 2015, the Philippine government has received over P208 billion in royalties from Malampaya.
Based on geological surveys, the United States Energy Information Administration estimates that the WPS 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 Spratlys.”