Engineer Helper Joe Mark Cabanillas, Flight Operations Officer Devy Boy Ko, Engineer Helper Jovann Mabanglo, Avionics Engineer Elfin Dela Cruz, Engineer Arjay Maranan, and First Officer Rogelio Arquillo Jr. with the Leonardo AW139 helicopter used to mobilize and demobilize Malampaya crew members to and from the offshore platform safely and efficiently.

Combining the mindsets of continuous improvement and safety-first, Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) is set to complete the transfer of its helicopter base from Puerto Princesa to the newly-inaugurated aircraft hangar of INAEC Aviation Corporation inside Lio Airport in El Nido and begin hangar operations soon.

“The safety and security of our people are of paramount importance to us,” SPEX External Relations Manager for Upstream Paulo Gavino said. “This move underscores our commitment to our frontliners – offshore platform crew members who recognize no holidays, are based offshore several weeks at a time, and tirelessly work in shifts to ensure that Malampaya powers Luzon reliably 24 x 7. Truly they and their families are the heroes of Malampaya!”

One of the Leonardo AW139 helicopters that will make El Nido its base of operations

Improved safety and emergency response

By transferring the Malampaya helicopter base to the new 825-square-meter INAEC Hangar E2 in El Nido, the flight time for the transport of personnel to and from the offshore platform will be significantly reduced by over 70%.

Atty. Kiril Caral, Managing Director of SPEX, said during the inauguration ceremony of the new INAEC hangar in El Nido, “The relocation of the helicopter base from Puerto Princesa to El Nido offers significant benefits to Malampaya. Flight time is reduced from 55 minutes to 15 minutes, which means improved safety, reliability and efficiency of our operations.”

The strategic position of INAEC Hangar E2 in El Nido also provides easier access to search and rescue resources including support from the Joint Task Force Malampaya, a composite team of the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy with support from the Philippine Coast Guard. This will help improve the security of the Malampaya offshore crew, especially in cases of offshore emergencies with shorter response times.

Similar to SPEX, safety is also the number one priority at INAEC. The company adheres to international standards, undergoes stringent year-round audits by third-party auditors, and implements continuous training of crewmembers and personnel.

SPEX-INAEC-PHI International partnership

Don Eugenio H. Lopez established INAEC in 1932 as the first Filipino-owned private airline in the Philippines. In the early 2000s, INAEC began operating and providing helicopter transport services to oil and gas producers in the country.

In 2013, INAEC partnered with SPEX and PHI International for the helicopter transport of Malampaya personnel from Puerto Princesa to the offshore platform.

Costing PHP 45 million, the construction of INAEC Hangar E2 began in April 2021 and was completed in March of this year. During its recent inauguration, INAEC President Jay Lopez said, “This to us is more than just a structure. This represents a true milestone for INAEC. It is symbolic of a continuing and evolving partnership whose end objective is to keep the lights on in the Philippines.”

Established in 2017, PHI International is an aviation expert known for providing safety and efficiency for its clients in the oil and gas industry. It is responsible for maintaining the base and the helicopters at the new INAEC Hangar E2 in El Nido.

“The infrastructure in El Nido has far outpaced other airports in the country,” PHI International Base and Contract Manager Brian Curie said during the inauguration.

Through its high-quality helicopter services, PHI International has successfully performed the challenging task of transporting the Malampaya crew to and from the offshore platform safely for the last eight years.

“We are proud to work together with the pioneers and most trusted names in the air transport and air charter industry to help power the lives of millions of Filipinos across the country,” Gavino said.

PH natural gas industry pioneer

Operated by SPEX, Malampaya signaled the birth of the Philippine natural gas industry. SPEX harnesses domestic natural gas from the depths of the West Philippine Sea resulting in reduced oil imports, better air quality, and generated significant revenues for the local government amounting to US$12 billion or over PHP 1 trillion so far.

Since January 2002, Malampaya continues to power up to 20% of the country’s electricity or the equivalent of 14.4 million Filipinos. It has also made Luzon’s air cleaner and better since natural gas emits 30-50% less air emissions compared to coal, fuel oil or diesel in electricity generation.

Representatives from Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) during the inauguration ceremony of the El Nido Hangar 2 in Palawan including (from left to right) SPEX Operations Manager Albert Emas, SPEX Engineering and Projects Manager Rhea Navarro, SPEX Supply Chain Senior Manager Kim Leones, SPEX Managing Director Atty. Kiril Caral, SPEX Supply Chain Delivery Manager Ken Tobias, SPEX Aviation SC Delivery Assurance Manager Andrea Sy, SPEX External Relations Manager for Upstream Paulo Gavino, SPEX Field Development Manager Rene Villafuerte, and SPEX ER Writer Bambi Camus.

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