Manila, already one of the world’s densest and most populated cities, is undergoing a major growth spurt.
An expanding middle class is driving sales of electronic goods, cars and condominiums. More people are visiting air-conditioned shopping centres and supermarkets in the crowded Philippine capital.
And with a rising population and no end in sight to the country’s economic boom, policymakers in the Philippines are thinking hard about how to generate enough energy to meet the expected doubling of demand over the next 15 years.
The options include exploring for more natural gas to generate electricity, as well as buying liquefied natural gas from other countries.
But a new project in deep waters off the western Philippines is demonstrating another way to meet the world’s growing energy needs – by boosting the life of existing energy assets.
Today, the Malampaya offshore gas field is one of the main sources of energy for the Philippines. It provides up to 30% of the electricity supply of the main island of Luzon, which, in turn, generates around 80% of the country’s gross domestic product.
But since production at Malampaya started in 2001, pressure in the gas reservoir deep beneath the seabed has dropped, potentially reducing the supply of electricity to millions of homes and businesses.
“It’s very important that we find a way to maximise the field and keep it going as long as possible,” says Sebastian Quiniones, asset manager of Shell Philippines Exploration which operates Malampaya.
To address the problem, Shell designed a so-called depletion compression platform which boosts the pressure to help keep gas flowing out of the reservoir and through the pipeline to shore. The new platform is expected to maintain the gas flow at current levels for about another decade.