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Destructive politics rears ugly head

Energy security is not an issue in the exit of multinationals from the Malampaya natural gas field that provides fuel to five power plants, which together produce 3,200 megawatts of power, enough for about 40 percent of the electricity demand in Luzon.

It is a clean source of energy, which makes it more valuable for the country as it transitions away from coal and other fossil fuel sources of power.

The strategic resource is now owned 90 percent by Malampaya Energy and 10 percent by the state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC), which makes it an all-Filipino business operation.

How can security and reliability be questioned as a particular senator angling for a second term is now harping on?

For media mileage obviously, the senator had immediately set a hearing even when he knows the same professionals who have been on top of ensuring the efficient operation of the natural gas facility for some 30 years were retained by the new Filipino owner.

That particular member of the Senate is using the purely private transaction as a launching pad for next year’s elections.

Udenna group unit Malampaya Energy has bought out oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron from the project, as the Dennis Uy conglomerate bets on the prospects of continuous production in the area under Service Contract 38.

The latest transaction involved the sale of the interest of Shell Philippines Exploration BV (SPEX), the operator of Malampaya since 1991, when it received a license to operate in the Philippines.

SPEX thus supplies the technical skills, manpower and technology during the project’s day-to-day operations.

Components of the Malampaya operations, which require expert handling, are the subsea wells and flowlines, shallow water platform and a similar depletion completion deck to process natural gas, a catenary anchored leg mooring-buoy for the export of liquid condensate, a 504-kilometer-long gas export pipeline on the seabed, and an onshore gas plant and pipeline in Batangas City.

SPEX made an assurance to the government about a safe transition of the asset and its experienced workforce.

Confounding those who wanted to create an unnecessary stir about the capability of the new owner, SPEX said its staff will continue their employment under the new ownership, providing continuity and contributing to ongoing operational reliability and safety of the project.

“Malampaya and its staff have made significant contributions to the Philippines and to the local community over the past two decades and are expected to continue playing an important role in providing energy for the Philippines,” according to SPEX.

The two oil giants initially provided the capital for the huge project, but from the start those involved in it have proclaimed that “Malampaya was built by Filipinos, for Filipinos.”

Among the proud moments in the project was the completion of Malampaya Phase 3 in 2015 by 3,500 Filipino workers at the Keppel Subic Shipyard.

Helicopter operations, asset maintenance services and subsea services in Malampaya are operated by mostly Filipino pilots, engineers and marine crews.

The legislator who is questioning the technical expertise of the new owners of the project will get his fill of the details of the deal through a briefing from the proponent or even the Department of Energy.

It is quite suspicious when a member of Congress invokes the right to investigate “in aid of legislation” when everyone knows that a crucial national elections are in the cards a year from now.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph


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