FirstDibs by Amor Maclang • Published 13 October 2019


Making a mark today to impact the future of Palawan

The Philippines has been taking steps towards a more sustainable approach to energy sourcing. One of its major breakthroughs is the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power project, which uses in innovative technology and global expertise to responsibly source natural gas.

The Malampaya project is responsible for providing up to 40% of the energy demands of Luzon, the country’s largest island. This is equivalent to the power demands of 30% of the whole country.

However, the Malampaya project is more than just energy generation and distribution. Since the project is based in Palawan, the consortium behind the project made sure that they give back to the community that has provided them home. As such, the Malampaya Foundation was born.

The Malampaya Foundation is a social investment organization founded and funded by the Malampaya project’s venture partners, which includes Shell Philippines Exploration BV (SPEX). The foundation aims to support and enrich the nearby communities.

Since the Malampaya project’s inception in 2001, the Malampaya Foundation has rolled out initiatives and activities to benefit the lives of those in Palawan and beyond.

The BEST shot at life

Although the Malampaya project is based in Palawan, the Malampaya Foundation has an initiative which aims to train Filipinos for jobs across the Philippines and even overseas.

The Bridging Employment through Skills Training (BEST) was born out of the need to train people in skills like welding, pipeline fitting, and insulation. Most of the skills taught in the program aim to meet the demands of local industries, yet over the course of the program, the offer expanded to welding and technical skills that can meet the criteria of employers overseas.

The BEST program is offered to 21 to 35-year-old aspirants who then become BEST scholars who are given 500 hours of training to become fully qualified welders. In some cases, BEST has yielded scaffolders, riggers, and welders who have moved on to work on the Phase 3 expansion of the Malampaya project.

To date, BEST already has 3,000 graduates who have been trained in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and who have embarked on their respective career journeys, both here and abroad.

POGSS for better operations

This year, Shell continues to adhere to its thrust of making the future by involving the next generation in energy endeavors. At the second Philippine Oil and Gas Student Summit (POGSS) held in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, engineering students of Palawan State University were given primers for their future in the field.

Malampaya engineers, including Shell’s own engineers, shared the importance of creativity and collaboration when it comes to operations. “We need to be volatile and creative to solve complex problems,” said Shell Senior Discipline Engineer for Process Eugene Castillano.

Part of this initiative is to show future local engineers the subsea operations and demonstrate how to deal with environmental challenges through technology. A key takeaway at POGSS is the ABCs of the skillset for working in the energy industry. Shell’s partner ventures shared that “Aptitude, Behavior, and Communication” are the key ingredients to making pursue this passion.

In-situ spawning for giant clams

Part of Palawan’s magnificent beaches is the marine ecosystem that thrives beneath the waves. To ensure that life beneath the surface also expands in the same way the communities prosper, the Malampaya Foundation, together with partner ventures like SPEX, explored the first-ever in-situ spawning for native giant clams, known as Tridacna gigas.

These native clams have been on the decline, so the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute took the task of supervising the spawning activity. The initiative spawned over 9.5 million eggs, with the goal of maturing them and deploying the Tridacna gigas to protected areas in northern Palawan.

The giant clams are ecologically significant because they serve as both habitat and food for some of the marine life. However, Tridacna gigas only have a 0.1% survival rate, making the most endangered clam species almost extinct in the Philippines. Thus, the goal of the initiative is to ensure that the environment survives for the benefit of the entire Palawan ecosystem, now and in the future.

The Malampaya Foundation, in line with Shell’s thrust to make the future, plows through the challenges in operations and geography. By working with industry leaders like SPEX, they aim to work together and provide creative and collaborative solutions to improve areas like Palawan.

By harnessing and utilizing energy—be it in flourishing the environment or cultivating the talents of the future generation—Shell and the Malampaya Foundation continue to engage communities to be part of the solution for future challenges.