ORMOC CITY — The
href=”http://www.energy.com.ph/”>Philippine National Oil Co.-Energy Development Corp. (PNOC-EDC) is fast-tracking its $200-million geothermal fields exploration project in Mt. Cabalian in Southern Leyte to help address the recurring power shortage problem of the country.
So far, the state-run energy company has drilled three exploratory wells in Southern Leyte, according to Manuel Ogena, PNOC-EDC’s vice president for technical services.
Ogena said the drilling of the third well was completed a week ago at a depth of 3,104 meters.
He said the well would be “heated up” for about a month and that by then, they would be able to tell the potential reserves of the geothermal fields in Southern Leyte.
“We are verifying with this [third well] a total of 100 to 110 megawatt capacity,” he said.
Ogena said they initially confirmed about 50 MW worth steam reserves from the two early wells, the drilling of which reached an average of 2,500 meters below the earth’s surface for each well.
If PNOC-EDC would be successful in their geothermal exploration works, Ogena said the company would look for joint venture partners in developing the geothermal fields and for investors who would undertake the construction of the power plant through build-operate-transfer (BOT) or other schemes.
The government is hoping to generate 100-150 MW of geothermal power from Mt. Cabalian in Southern Leyte, with the geothermal plant targeted for commissioning by 2015. A transmission line, more than 80 kilometers long, would connect the plant to the lines of the National Power Corp. in Leyte.
An operational geothermal plant in Southern Leyte could supply additional power to the Cebu grid and to the Mindanao grid via submarine cables, Ogena said.
The interconnection with Mindanao would in effect complete the country’s so-called national electric highway, he said.
PNOC-EDC remains to be the country’s largest producer of geothermal energy with an installed capacity of 1,198 MW. The 107,625-hectare Leyte Geothermal Production Field (LGPF) alone produces 708 MW.
Housed inside the LGPF, which is considered the largest wet steam producing field in the world, are the 112.5 MW Tongonan Production Field, the 132 MW Upper Mahiao Power Plant, the 232.5 MW Malitbog Power Plant, the 180 MW Mahanagdong A and B Plants, and the 51 MW Optimization Plants.
The Upper Mahiao plant, Malitbog plant, Mahanagdong plants and optimization plant were built through the Build-Operate-Transfer scheme.
After the completion of a 10-year cooperation period, these plants were to be handed over to PNOC-EDC by the builders.
California Energy International Ltd., the private firm that built the plants, has turned over to PNOC-EDC the Upper Mahiao plant in 2006 and the Malitbog plant and the twin Mahanagdong plants last July 25.
The optimization plant is set to be handed over in September 2007.
Since PNOC-EDC began commercial operations in 1983, it has produced about 80,614 gigawatts, which served as alternative to 134 million barrels of fuel oil the country would have needed, the company said.
According to PNOC-EDC, this generated a total foreign exchange savings of $3.75 billion.
Geothermal energy, which is abundant in the Philippines, is inexpensive, releases no carbon dioxide and few pollutants compared to fossil fuel, and can provide a continuous energy source for a long time.