More blackouts loom in Mindanao

Published by rudy Date posted on April 8, 2015

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – More and longer blackouts are expected in Mindanao in the coming weeks, an official said yesterday.

“The situation is generally back to normal as the system regains stability, but derated capacity from Agus Hydroelectric Power Complex due to low water levels is expected during summer,” said Romeo Montenegro, assistant director of the Mindanao Development Authority and head of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Council.

Water levels in Lake Lanao in Marawi City and Polangui River in Bukidnon, two main sources of hydroelectric power in Mindanao, are expected to hit a record low this summer.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) placed the capacity of the Mindanao grid at 1,386 megawatts and its system peak at 1,378 MW.

The Department of Energy has vowed to look deeper into the cause of the massive blackout in Mindanao on Easter Sunday.

Initial reports said the blackout was caused by a trip-off on a line affecting a switchyard connected to Agus 7 hydroelectric power plant. It also contributed to the disruption of the commissioning schedule of Therma South Inc., a soon-to-be operational coal-fired power plant in Barangay Binugao in Davao City.

Therma South president Benjamin Cariaso Jr. said they would reassess the commissioning schedule of one of its two 150-MW units and advise customers of developments.

Cariaso said the commissioning of the second 150-MW unit remains on schedule.

More than 20 distribution utilities and electric cooperatives have signed up to receive capacity from Therma South. The power plant capacity has been sold out since 2014.

Some 4,000 workers mostly from Davao City and Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, worked to complete the project seen as one of the most critical long-term solutions to the Mindanao power crisis.

Luzon grid

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the Luzon grid remains stable but consumers should not yet relax as the highest demand of up to 9,100 megawatts is expected in May.

“There’s also a possibility that summer may come in late,” he said.

Petilla said power rates are “more or less stable,” because the situation is not as bad as earlier expected.

Malampaya shutdown

The Manila Electric Co. said the generation charge for April might increase because of the one-month maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya deep water gas to power project in offshore Palawan.

The natural gas field went on a scheduled shutdown on March 15 until April 13. The shutdown has placed the Luzon grid in a critical supply situation as Malampaya supplies 40 percent of the grid’s requirements.

As of yesterday, the Luzon grid had reserves of 1,158 MW, with system capacity at 9,487 MW and system peak at 8,006 MW, according to the NGCP.

Spex Exploration B.V. (Spex), the upstream company of energy giant Shell, said forgoing the shutdown would put the field’s output at risk.

“Malampaya is undertaking a critical milestone in 2015, the tie-in of the second offshore platform that will help sustain the 2,700 MW production level of the three power plants it supplies. This will address the natural decrease in pressure of the reservoir and help ensure long term energy security for the country,” Spex said.

The 1,200-MW Ilijan, 1,000-MW Santa Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo natural gas plants source fuel from the Malampaya natural gas field.

The consortium is currently working on the second and third phase expansion of the Malampaya project. The installation of a new platform is part of the third phase expansion.

According to the consortium, the second phase of the Malampaya project entails the drilling and development of two additional wells at a cost of $250 million, while the third phase involves the installation of a new platform where additional equipment and facilities will be housed at a cost of $750 million. –Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) with Iris Gonzales

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