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Monday, July 21, 2014

Philex Petroleum unit revives talks with CNOOC over joint exploration in West PH Sea

Philex Petroleum Corp has sent word that it is interested in reviving talks with China National Offshore Oil Co. Ltd. (CNOOC) over an oil and gas prospect off the West Philippine Sea.

On the sidelines of the PLDT SME Nation Future Talks forum on Friday, Philex Petroleum chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters that Forum Energy Plc has "sent feelers" to its Chinese partner for the resumption of talks for the joint exploration of Service Contract (SC) 72, saying now is the appropriate time to resume discussions.

CNOOC has yet to respond, but its reply “will be a factor as well that would determine our own plans in 2016," Pangilinan said.

"Even as a matter of courtesy, we should advise them that this is what we're planning to do and so forth," he said.

"We're at the basement of the discussion. This will take a long while," he added.

Forum Energy is "considering how to mobilize the resources needed for the appraisal wells by 2016" after the Department of Energy (DOE) granted the company early this month a one-year extension of its drilling program, or up to August 15, 2016, to complete its obligations under the second phase of SC 72.

"We can [start] but as you know, we are part of an overall, broader geopolitical situation so we have to be sensitive to them," Pangilinan said.

"Before we can agree, we have to get the respective agreement of our governments. Kasi di naman kami makakagalaw kung walang approval ng government natin. I'm sure sa kanila ganun din," he said.

Philex Petroleum is spending $60-70 million to drill 2 appraisal wells in SC 72. Pangilinan had said it may start drilling in the first quarter of 2016 since it may take about 6-12 months to prepare for it.

Forum Energy, which is 60.45 percent owned by Philex Petroleum, operates the petroleum block located in offshore Palawan.

Forum Energy had been in talks with CNOOC for a possible joint exploration of SC72 but the ongoing territorial dispute in West Philippine Sea has been a major hindrance to developing the area.

"They're a major oil firm in China that has an experience in oil exploration and drilling. They're a fully-integrated oil company so they'll bring the level of expertise we don't have ourselves. Of course, they could provide or procure the funding, looking to them for assistance in procuring and providing fund in case there's gas and in the development of the gas field we would look to them," Pangilinan said, referring to CNOOC.

Exploring for new gas fields is urgent, as the 25-year shelf life of Malampaya, the Philippines' only natural gas field of commercial scale, will last only until 2024. Malampaya supplies 40 percent of Luzon's electricity requirements through 3 power plants in Batangas.

The Sampaguita field, which is covered by SC 72 in the Recto Bank, is estimated to have gross reserves of over 11 trillion cubic feet of gas, an independent study commissioned by Forum Energy earlier showed.

The volume dwarfs the Malampaya natural gas field's reserves, which is placed at 2.7 trillion cubic feet, and could supply the Philippines' gas requirements for up to a hundred years.

- Interaksyon

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