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More investors keen on PH oil, gas exploration

The Philippines’ efforts to rev up the exploration for oil and gas in the country continue to attract interest from potential investors, the Department of Energy (DOE) said, despite the prevailing uncertainty due to the territorial dispute with China.

The DOE said in a statement that it had so far received from 11 companies 21 requests for rights to look for petroleum reserves in portions of the Recto Bank—itself a subject of territorial disputes—as well as Sulu Sea, Palawan, Quezon, Albay and Mindoro.

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These requests came in after the DOE launched the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP) in November 2018.

Of the 21 total, the DOE said it had granted “area clearances” to seven requests. This means there is no overlap between the areas that the applicants want to explore.

“We need to increase exploration and development activities in the Philippines so that our country can become energy self-sufficient,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a statement.

“The DOE is continuously pushing for the success of the PCECP for the effective, responsible and reasonable development of all our indigenous energy resources,” Cusi said.

Under the PCECP, the request and grant of area clearances is one of two ways that exploration may be allowed through a service contract with the DOE.

The other way is to choose areas that are already identified or “pre-determined,” as opposed to areas that are “nominated.”

The PCECP opens to investors 14 predetermined petroleum areas or blocks. The first one covers an onshore block within the Cagayan Basin in Northern Luzon. Areas 2-4 are offshore blocks in the East Palawan Basin.

Areas 5-7 are offshore blocks in the Sulu Sea while Areas 8-9 are onshore blocks in the Agusan-Davao Basin.

Area 10 is an onshore block in the Cotabato Basin while Areas 11-14 are offshore blocks in the West Luzon Basin, off Central Luzon and Calabarzon.

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The DOE said that among the seven companies that had received clearances for their nominated areas, four had taken the next of step of submitting their letters of intent.

Related to this, three companies have also taken the subsequent step of publishing their nominated areas—which are in the Sulu Sea, Northwest Palawan, and Ragay Gulf.

Nominated areas are to be subjected to challenges—within 60 days—from other prospective investors, giving the latter a chance to offer the DOE better terms.

The challenge period for all three nominated areas expires in the third week of August.

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TAGS: Business, gas exploration, PH oil
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