Isabela gas field can add to Malampaya

- Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

‘MANGOSTEEN’: Government geologists have confirmed the discovery of another major natural gas field in Isabela that would complement the Malampaya gas-to-power project emanating from Palawan.

Named “Mangosteen,” the new discovery was described by technicians to have a probability of geological success (POGS) of 18 percent, which they considered significant as Malampaya itself had only a POGS of 8 percent when discovered in 1992.

Project technical papers have it that Mangosteen has a recoverable resource potential of 71 billion cubic feet of natural gas reserves that can contribute 50 to 60 megawatts to the Luzon power supply for at least 15 years.

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ONSHORE SOURCE: Malampaya is bigger than Mangosteen with its output of 3.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 85 million barrels of condensate that can generate 2,700 mw until 2022.

The natural gas from Malampaya accounts for 40-45 percent of the power supply in the Luzon grid, which may explain why its closure for periodic preventive maintenance could be disruptive.

But Mangosteen has the advantage of being located on land, unlike the offshore Malampaya whose reserve comes from 3,000 meters below sea level. It requires some 500 kilometers of pipeline to deliver its output to three gas-fired power plants in Batangas.

The Batangas plants are Sta. Rita (1,000 mw), San Lorenzo (500 mw) and Ilijan (1,200 mw). The first two are owned by the Lopez group, while Ilijan is owned by the South Premiere Power Corp.

Mangosteen is some 8 km south of Santiago City proper and about the same distance from the older San Antonio well to the east that had contributed some 4 billion cubic feet of gas to a local 3-mw power plant for 15 years until it was closed in 2008.

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PNOC A MINORITY: Another difference is that Mangosteen is wholly owned by the government through the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. If PNOC-EC upgrades Mangosteen into a gas-to-power project like Malampaya, all its revenues will go to the government.

In Malampaya, PNOC-EC owns only 10 percent of the project, the majority of equity being controlled by foreign oil interests.

The upstream component of the $4.5 billion Malampaya gas-to-power project is jointly held by Shell Philippines Exploration BV (45 percent), Chevron Texaco (45 percent) and PNOC-EC which holds the 10-percent balance.

The prospectus says Malampaya is expected to provide revenue of $8–10 billion to the government over its life span.

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MALAMPAYA LOOTED: A big chunk of Malampaya’s earnings, however, has been stolen by corrupt officials conniving with pork barrel manipulators. Until this late date nobody in government seems to know or to care where the loot is.

This corner fears that if Mangosteen is proved to be commercially viable, somebody high in government might just decide to privatize the promising power business and hand it over to the usual suki.

One convenient excuse for giving it to favored friends is that, while government geologists, engineers and other technical experts are competent, the government does not have the capital to go the gas-to-power route alone.

But industry sources tell us the costs are not that prohibitive. There are many quality power generators to make possible the putting up of a medium-size plant within one year of the completion of the paper work from the barangay up.

In the exploration leading to Mangosteen, the PNOC-EC has spent nothing out of its regular budget for salaries, equipment, etc. To go the extra mile and move to power generation it has enough retained earnings.

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ALARM!: A general alarm went off yesterday with a report by Tessa Jamandre (VERA Files) published in the STAR that the Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations.

The report said the quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale that the foreign office handed to a representative of the Malaysian embassy last week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Our immediate reaction, posted on Twitter, was: “Until (the Philippines) has a president of proven competence and patriotism, it should desist from offering Malaysia quid pro quo deals on Sabah.”

There are just too many clear indications that Malaysia is up to something sneaky. It is a wonder President Noynoy Aquino and his coterie are playing blind to the plotting of Kuala Lumpur against Manila’s interests.

Even assuming that Mr. Aquino has Best Friends Forever in KL and Johore, love of country should be a president’s guiding star.

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WHERE LIES HIS HEART?: Coming close on the heels of Mamasapano where the nation’s finest police officers were fed to the marauding Muslim rebels to save kuno a “peace process,” this latest development on Sabah raises questions on the wisdom of allowing Mr. Aquino to continue being president.

If only it were legally possible for the Supreme Court to issue a TRO (temporary restraining order) on all acts of Mr. Aquino impinging on national security, there would be a crowd banging the door of the High Court to secure a TRO.

In foreign affairs, unfortunately, the President is the country’s sole spokesman. But how does one trust somebody to speak for the Philippines on foreign relations when we are not sure where his heart lies?

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THE ENEMY: Some columns ago, we asked: “What’s the deal” (with Malaysia on Sabah, Bangsamoro and related issues)?

The VERA Files revelation prompts us to reiterate the question, especially in light of intelligence reports that Malaysia maintains a bulging slush fund taken from revenues from the bountiful timber and mineral resources of our Sabah territory grabbed by Malaysia.

The fund running into billions is allegedly being used to influence key Filipinos, some of them high in government, to think and act in a manner favorable to Malaysia.

Some time ago we also pointed out that the enemy is not in the cornfield of Mamasapano but in Malaysia. Now we are tempted to ask if the enemy lurks in Malacañang itself.

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RESEARCH: Access past POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. Follow us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Email feedback to [email protected]













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