THE Malampaya gas field is expected to resume operations Monday (October 25), three days after it was supposed to go back online.

According to Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), repair at the platform’s flare tip was affected by typhoon Maring. “Winds of 25 knots and higher prevented us from safely doing work in the offshore platform for around four days during the week of October 11-15,” SPEX explained at the weekend.

Maintenance work was scheduled from October 2 to 22. “So, there’s a two- to three-day delay in the platform’s start up,” added SPEX. The operator of the gas field explained that the main activity during the 20-day shutdown is the replacement of the flare tip, which weighs about 4,500 kilograms and had to be lifted to a height of 55 meters, during the typhoon.

The maintenance work, it added, will “most likely be finished by October 25” and, thereafter, steadily ramp up gas production to normal levels.

During the shutdown, the gas plants fueled by Malampaya had to run on liquid fuel, which is more expensive than gas. These are 1,000-megawatt (MW) Santa Rita and 500MW San Lorenzo electric generating facilities of First Gen.

This will result in higher electric bills for consumers. The agencies in the power sector have yet to calculate the impact on power rates during the Malampaya shutdown.

This early, however, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) said average WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) prices reached P6.75 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) as of October 20.

The figure is double the previous months’ WESM average price of P3.30 per kwh.

According to the WESM operator, the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya gas facility, increasing demand and the forced outage incidents of other power plants led to higher WESM rates.

Luzon peak demand rose by 3.36 percent or by 352 MW.

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