DoE assures investors 2 petroleum blocks within Philippine territory
MANILA, Philippines—Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras stressed that the two petroleum blocks off northwest Palawan that are being offered under the current Philippine Energy Contracting Round 4 are both well within Philippine territories, despite the recent claims made by the Chinese government.
Almendras made the assurance to investors on Monday, as the Chinese government filed a request for clarification as to which country had jurisdiction of Area 3 and Area 4, specifically.
“They filed a request to clarify because they feel that Areas 3 and 4 are part of the Spratlys. It is up to the Department of Foreign Affairs to discuss this. The Department of Energy has no comment on these things. As agreed, the DFA takes the lead in all the diplomatic issues,” Almendras said on the sidelines of the 1st EU-Philippines Meeting on Energy on Monday.
The energy chief noted that he was not alarmed by the filing made by the Chinese government, stressing that the “there is no uncertainty as far as the Philippines is concerned.”
“We offered 15 service contracts for oil and gas blocks, which the Philippines believes are within its territorial claims,” Almendras said, adding that there would be no complications if the government starts awarding these contracts by the middle of the year.
The filing made by the Chinese government, Almendras further said, would not make a dent on the interest of investors to bid for any of the 15 oil and gas blocks being offered under the PECR 4, as they were expecting to award all the contracts. Interested bidders, he added, have all been well aware of these claims.
As of last week, 25 local and foreign petroleum exploration companies that have firmed up their interest in acquiring the 15 oil and gas blocks, located at Cagayan, Central Luzon, Northwest Palawan, Mindoro-Cuyo, East Palawan, Cotabato and the Sulu Sea.
Energy Undersecretary Jose M. Layug Jr. last week identified the big-ticket players that submitted prequalification documents as the French multinational Total, one of the world’s leading oil and gas groups; Eni S.p.A., an Italian multinational oil and gas company; US firm CalEnergy; and GDF Suez of France.
The PECR 4 was envisioned to address the security of the country’s energy supply through the exploration of local indigenous resources. Harnessing local resources is expected to help the country meet its daily demand and reduce the importation of petroleum and petroleum products.
More importantly, developing the country’s own resources is deemed to be a long-term plan of action that will reduce the country’s dependence on imported petroleum and mitigate the effects of oil price volatility.
According to the DoE, it expects at least $7.5 billion worth of initial investments to be infused in the local oil and gas sector over the next several years, should all the 15 contracts offered under PECR be awarded to investors. This amount approximates the maximum investments required during the exploration stage alone.
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