FINDING a new gas field should be a “national priority” amid the likelihood that the current Malampaya natural gas field will be depleted over the next 10 years.
The call was issued over the weekend by Rufino B. Bomasang, director of Otto Energy Philippines Inc. (Otto Philippines), operator of Block SC55 located offshore Palawan.
Studies indicate that the Malampaya gas field could run out of natural gas by 2024.
The Malampaya facility, managed by Shell Philippines Exploration, supplies natural gas to major power plants that generate cheaper electricity for the Luzon grid.
“Given that Malampaya is projected to be depleted in the next decade, looking for the next Malampaya should be a national priority,” Bomasang said.
Bomasang expressed confidence that another source of natural gas besides Malampaya is just waiting to be discovered.
“I’ve always believed that there must be another Malampaya somewhere out there in offshore Palawan,” he said.
Based on extensive 2D and 3D seismic surveys, Bomasang said there is potential to find sufficient gas resources in offshore Southwest Palawan covered by SC55.
“But that is potential. We have to find out by drilling and that is the most expensive part,” he added.
The 2D and 3D seismic surveys were conducted by DST (Australia’s largest resource company) and its partners Otto Energy and Transasia at a cost of $34 million.
“Is there another Malampaya particularly in undisputed waters? Only exploration can tell us,” he said.
He said the gas resources should be enough to replace Malampaya and still fuel other gas-fired power plants.
“I would like to believe that most of us are now convinced that putting up gas-fired power plants is the most effective strategy for this country to meet its future electricity demand in an environmentally sustainable manner,” said Bomasang.
In addition, an oil prospect has also been identified in Service Contract 55 that could well be the country’s largest oil accumulation, he added.
Bomasang, however, said Otto “prefers to drill the oil prospect first, understandably, because an oil discovery can be marketed much sooner than a gas discovery.”
He noted that that the country still imports at least 98 percent of its oil requirements.
Bomasang said the company is currently preparing to drill SC55 in the third quarter of this year.
“For this opportunity, Otto has invited other parties to join in and another foreign oil exploration company, Red Emperor, has in fact already farmed-in,” he said.
Otto Energy Philippines earlier signed a farm-in agreement with Red Emperor Resources NL to earn a 15 percent working interest in Block SC55.
The company also invited the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC), the oil and gas arm of state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), for the said project.
“PNOC-EC has also been invited and has formally expressed interest, but its participation has yet to be firmed up due to some bureaucratic requirements of the government-owned and -controlled corporation,” said Bomasang.