TWO companies successfully conducted yesterday the flaring or burning of natural gas from an exploration field in Barangay Libertad, Bogo City, as one way to test its commercial prospects.

Carlos Gonzales of Forum Exploration Inc. said he hopes that work can start this year on a one-megawatt power plant in the area.

Some 600 million cubic feet of natural gas is estimated to be in Libertad alone and if they can find another deposit in other barangays of Bogo City, the power plant project may be expanded, he said.

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The project is under a Department of Energy (DOE) contract awarded to Forum Exploration, which belongs to Forum Energy of the United Kingdom.

“This area in Libertad (Bogo City) is a natural gas find and we have a third-party partner as instructed by the DOE to produce power from the gas that’s found here in Libertad,” Gonzales said.

He said Forum Energy’s responsibility extends only up to the well head, but its conversion and transfer to the power grid will be handled by Manila-based Desco Consultants Inc.

The energy department’s website (www.doe.gov.ph) describes the Libertad site as one of three major oil-gas deposits in the country.

“Exploration in this region started in 1958, drilling 21 wells…Small scale commercial production of the Libertad gas field now seems viable (as of 1998) with the demonstrated success of the three-megawatt San Antonio gas-fired power plant in Isabela,” the website added.

Gonzales said yesterday’s flaring activity was intended to gather data on the gas pressure, composition, quality and other information, for project officials to gauge how long the deposit’s lifespan will stretch, how much pressure exists, and how many megawatts of power can be produced.

“So what basically we are doing is more technical data-gathering,” Gonzales said.

The Global Gas Flaring Reduction website explains flaring this way: “When crude oil is brought to the surface, gas associated with the oil comes to the surface as well. The gas may be used at the installation as fuel for generators, may be transported via pipelines and sold elsewhere, or may be injected into the ground.”

Gonzales said the initial proposal is for a one-megawatt containerized portable power plant gas generator from Austria, “made by General Electric and distributed in the country by Desco.”

The test was also intended to determine how long the project can run.

“Initially, the estimate is around five to seven years depending on the pressure and the reserves underground,” Gonzales said.

Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr. said he is happy that after all the explorations, a power plant will soon be established using natural gas, an alternative fuel, which although fossil-based, causes less pollution.

“This natural gas project can provide employment for my constituents and can increase the revenues of the Bogo City Government,” Martinez said.

Libertad Barangay Captain Wilson Dosdos said the natural gas field in his area can increase their income.