Hunt for next Malampaya on

15malampayaOil exploration companies are racing to find the next oil and gas discovery in the Philippines that could rival, if not exceed, the multi-billion-dollar Malampaya natural gas field.

“Given that Malampaya is projected to be depleted in the next decade…looking for the next Malampaya should be national priority. I’ve always believed that there must be another Malampaya somewhere out there in offshore Palawan,” Otto Energy Philippines chairman Rufino Bomasang said during the recently concluded Natural Gas Summit 2015.

Bomasang said only exploration activities could discover the next Malampaya gas field “particularly in undisputed waters.”

The Malampaya gas field northwest off Palawan was discovered in 1990 and the field began production only in 2002.

Sebastian Quinones, managing director of the Shell Philippines Exploration B.V., operator of the Malampaya gas field, said the “additional exploration does not say that Malampaya will last another 50 years.”

“Are there additional reservoirs that can be tapped?  Beyond 2024 our license expires…What we do know is the fuel will deplete,” Quinones said.

“If we find another Malampaya, well and good, but that is a big if,” Quinones said, who also sits as the president of the Petroleum Association of the Philippines.

The Malampaya gas field powers the country’s three natural gas plants with a combined capacity of 2,500 megawatts. The Philippines’ power generation capacity is around 9,500 MW.

“The Malampaya concession expires in 2024 and while it may have enough gas for some further expansion, this is not considered sufficient for more than about five years at current levels,” Energy Department chief of natural gas office Laura Saguin said.

The Energy Department has identified seven areas with strong potential for natural gas find, including northwest Palawan basin, southwest Palawan basin, Sulu Sea basin, Cagayan basin, Visayas basin, Central Luzon basin and Mindoro-Cuyo platform.

The department also identified the disputed Rector Bank basin as another prospective source of natural gas but Forum Energy Plc, which holds a 70-percent stake in service contract 72, has been unable to conduct exploratory drilling due to the ongoing territorial dispute with China.

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