A Senate probe is looming over the expiration of the service contract of the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-To-Power Project that has reserves that will not last for another seven years.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Energy committee, Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have filed Senate Resolution 533 to open the probe. Gatchalian said there is a need for Congress to be informed and apprised of the government’s plans for the Malampaya project’s Service Contract 38.

The Department of Energy said on Tuesday that Malampaya’s reserves will last until 2027. A critical component in energizing the Luzon grid, Malampaya’s surrounding areas are rich in oil and natural gas.

Gatchalian said the Senate also wants to get apprised of government’s preparations by the time Malampaya’s gas reserves are depleted, and find out if the government and consortium in charge of the project have been complying with Presidential Decree (PD) 87 or the “Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972.”

The coming sale of the 45-percent stake of Shell Exploration BV (SPEX) in Malampaya will also be probed. Chevron, which markets Caltex product in the Philippines, previously had a stake at Malampaya but was sold to Udenna Corp.’s subsidiary, UC Malampaya Philippines. Udenna is controlled by Dennis Uy, known to be close to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We’re looking at the larger picture which is the energy security of the country. So we have to make sure that whoever takes over that portion of Shell should have the technical capability. They should be able to demonstrate that they can operate this rig competently with technical expertise and in the future, if ever that area has potential, they should be able to demonstrate that so they can explore and develop that area,” Gatchalian said.

He added that what also needs to be discussed is whether the government should take over Malampaya’s operation.

There were views before that government’s operation of the Malampaya project could have generated a larger  amount of money for public coffers.

From January 2002 to December 31, 2019, Malampaya has generated P261.681 billion in revenues for the government. (sovereignph.com)

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