Liquid fuels are what the country needs

By: Engr. Edgar Mana-ay

BASIC energy sources can be in solid form as in coal or wood; in liquid form as in crude oil or in gas form as in natural gas; in heat form as in the energy of the sun which is transformed into electricity through solar panels.

It can also be in kinetic form when strong winds turn wind mills which in turn cause the rotation of a generator to produce electricity. But what the country needs now is energy in liquid form, the fuels that will run various mobile and stationary equipment to keep the economy moving.

It is still a long, long way, maybe a thousand years before all trucks and cars on the road can be powered by the sun or wind. The concept of electric cars is also foolish because electric power charged to the car is produced by electric power plants fuelled by either coal or natural gas which will make it more expensive because of transmission cost from the plant to your home then to your car.

Therefore, we cannot do away with liquid fuels in the form of gasoline, diesel, bunker oil, kerosene, and jet fuels, which NOW constitute almost half of the total energy requirement of the country, and about 90 percent is imported at a cost of P7.8 BILLION PER DAY!

99 percent of this liquid fuel can only be derived from petroleum crude oil deposits underground. There was researches on coal liquefaction which this writer had observed in Sydney 40 years ago and until now no gas station is selling liquid coal! One percent of liquid fuels will come from fermentation of agricultural materials which will produce alcohol and this source of energy will always be expensive than petroleum-based fuels. This form of energy sources takes away food from the table like corn and sugar where alcogas is derived and with a burgeoning world population, this is never an energy source option.

Unfortunately, petroleum crude deposits underground in our country is very scarce; whatever scarce but viable oil deposits discovered and confirmed are offshore and more expensive to exploit than on land.

Be that as it may, whatever oil and gas deposit confirmed by exploration should immediately be drilled. Because it is only by actual drilling will we know, that indeed there is substantial oil and gas commercially viable for exploitation!

Energy exploration for oil and gas has been going on in our country for more than 70 years now. In fact, older Ilonggos will remember those large oil drill rigs used by the Americans in drilling for oil and gas near the Old Mandurriao airport, in New Lucena and in Oton more than 50 years ago. After drilling for about six deep holes, the Americans concluded that the oil and gas deposit in Iloilo is not commercially viable.

Oil and gas exploration in the 8,866 square kilometer Recto Bank area has been going on since the 1980s. For obvious reasons, the detailed exploration reports are not made public by Forum Energy, the awarded operator of the area. Having been in the exploration work for 15 years, this writer still has contacts with some people working in the area and grapevine sources tell of very promising deposits of oil and gas.

The attractiveness of the deposit can only be inferred based on detailed and sophisticated geophysical techniques such as seismic and magnetic surveys. These very complex tests will provide a picture of the geology of the substructures that trap oil and gas as when it located the horst and graben (a German term for laddered trenches) structure beneath the North Sea bed that trapped a tremendous amount of oil and gas. Whoever thought that in the North Sea where the sun shines for only six months a year and where sea waves are as high as Churches, that beneath its sea bed is tremendous oil and gas deposit.

In view of this, exploratory deep hole drilling should be done soonest at Recto Bank because if we hit the oil and gas deposit, the drill hole now becomes a production well. Forum Energy of Manny Pangilinan is just waiting for the go signal from the President despite the harassment by Chinese vessels on its exploratory ships. The President lame statement is: “The West Philippine Sea (WPS) is ours, no ifs and buts BUT we have to temper our claim with the times and realities we face today”.

U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim and Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez held an 8th Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Makati last July 15 to 16 reaffirming the Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines. The following were the agreed course of action regarding the conflict at WPS.“Both sides have agreed on ways to strengthen the alliance in view of the WPS conflict especially in intelligence sharing. It also pledged to enhance the already robust defense cooperation by improving defense infrastructures (does this mean building of defense missile sites at our occupied Spratly Island and providing our Navy with modern attack ships?), updating personnel and logistical procedures and increasing mutual communication and coordination on operational elements of regional security.”

While the joint communiqué borders towards motherhood statements, still our President should lean on it as his basis to order an immediate oil drilling at Recto Bank. In four years our Malampaya natural gas deposit will be gone and fuel imports will rise from the present P7.8 BILLION per day to maybe P9.5 billion/day making the Filipino life more miserable. Desperate times need desperate actions. The President should gamble now by ordering the oil drilling at Recto Bank despites threats from bully China because according to Woody Allen: “80% of success is showing up and daring.”