Lifting of ban on Recto Bank exploration sought
The MVP group, through an affiliate, has formally asked the Department of Energy to lift a moratorium on petroleum exploration at Recto Bank, which is a subject of a territorial dispute with China.
In a letter to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi dated Dec. 21, Forum (GSEC 101) Ltd. asked the government to lift the force majeure that the DOE imposed in December 2014.
The group’s PXP Energy Corp. holds an economic interest of 53 percent in Service Contract No. 72 that covers an offshore exploration block at Recto Bank in Northwest Palawan.
Forum GSEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Forum Energy Ltd., in which PXP has a 79-percent interest. Forum GSEC was writing in behalf of its partner Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc.
“We see the lifting of the [force majeure] will enable [the consortium] to resume exploration and appraisal activities in SC 72 which include the drilling of two appraisal wells on the Sampaguita gas discovery,” Forum GSEC country representative Daniel Stephen P. Carlos wrote.
Based on interpretation of previous surveys made at Recto Bank, Sampaguita contains 2.5 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.
Such volume is comparable to that of the existing Malampaya gas project ran by another consortium led by Shell, and which is expected to reach depletion sometime between 2026 and 2029.
“To be an effective replacement for Malampaya gas, the development of SC 72 must commence no later than 2027 as it will take at least six years from start [up to the first flow of gas],” Carlos said.
He also raised concerns about security of operation as well as a possible reimposition of force majeure.
Carlos said Forum and its contractors would need assurances from the government that any offshore exploration activity in the SC 72 area “could be conducted without interference from domestic or foreign forces.”
SC 72 has been under force majeure since Dec. 15, 2014 due to the West Philippine Sea maritime dispute.
A survey ship contracted Forum was reportedly almost rammed by Chinese patrol vessels. By 2015, activities at Recto Bank has been suspended as Malacañang pursued international arbitration over the territorial dispute.
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