Malampaya natural gas facility set for partial maintenance shutdown July 15-16, Sept. 23-24

June 21, 2017 - 11:21 PM
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Phil.Star file photo of the Malampaya gas field offshore facility.

MANILA – The Department of Energy is preparing for the scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas platform on July 15 and 16, and September 23 and 24, while assuring the public there will be enough supply.

Electricity distributor Meralco said the price impact of the Malampaya shutdown is not expected to be big, and may even be offset by the 79-centavo refund for users.

Though both dates for the shutdown fall on weekends, some 500 megawatts will still be taken out of the supply for the Luzon Grid on July 15 and 16, this coming from two units of the Sta. Rita power plant, DOE said.

On September 23 and 24, a 250-mw unit of Sta. Rita, a 600-mw unit of Ilijan, and a 250-mw unit of San Lorenzo will be taken out of the grid–for a total 1100 mw from the Luzon Grid.

The DOE gave assurances that the electricity supply from the grid will be enough, owing to the lower demand on weekends and the coordination between the agency and the affected plants’ operators.

“We don’t have to worry about anything, because this is a synchronized move, meaning, it was timed with the planned maintenance outages of the affected plants.”If you notice, these are on Saturday and Sunday when demand is low,” said DOE’s Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella.

On July 15 and 16 the Malampaya facility will be prepared for so-called “pigging” operations–the insertion of a pipeline inspection gauge (“PIG”) in the main pipeline in order to clean this thoroughly.

The “pigging operations” will take 21 days, but there is no need to shut off the gas from the facility once this process has started.

On September 23 and 24, maintenance crew will subject to testing the valves, doors and de-pressurization systems of the Malampaya facility.

“All of these are planned; engineers are onboard for the entire supply chain from natgas supply in Malampaya going to the offshore platform going to the plant — all these are coordinated,” Fuentebella said,

The overall impact on the system operator, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, and the market operator PEMC will also be tracked.

ILS as contingency

Meralco, meanwhile, is readying its interruptible load program in case supply falters. Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco’s head external communications, said, “The ILP is there as our response in case we face a challenged supply situation.”

Still, the company sees a slim chance of this happening since the maintenance shutdown will not take long. It also does not see this affecting market prices so much.

Besides this, each Meralco customer is getting a 79- centavo refund until August.

“If there is ever a price impact, this will probably not be as much as previous down times of facilities,” said Zaldarriaga.