Oil, gas eyed in Cotabato, Sulu Sea

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 June) – The Department of Energy (DOE) has identified 15 highly prospective areas for oil and gas exploration in the country, including blocks located in Cotabato and Sulu Sea.

Three onshore and 12 offshore blocks that contain a total area of more than 10 million hectares was bid out in the formal launch of the Fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR 4) at Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City last Thursday, the Department of Energy said in a press statement.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the DOE has encouraged more investors to participate in the bidding process for the oil and gas exploration areas in the country.

“The bidders need to prove their competency, we would like to reiterate that PECR is not about money, but also competency and quality work program – our job is to accelerate the development,” Almendras said in the statement.

PECR 4 formed part of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s long-term plans to address the Philippines’ need for oil and gas and to reduce the country’s dependence on costly imported oil. This platform provides for transparent and competitive system of tendering onshore and offshore oil and gas blocks for exploration to interested oil and gas companies.

Under this process, the DOE will determine the winning bidders based on specific technical, legal and financial criteria, after which the President will award the service contracts pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and Presidential Decree No. 87, otherwise known as “The Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972.”

The DOE estimates that the demand for oil in the Philippines is at 300,000 barrels per day.

The contracting round is expected to attract investments in oil and gas exploration activities which will contribute to the realization of the country’s energy self-sufficiency level target of 60 percent by 2011, according to the DOE press statement. This year’s contracting round is the biggest yet offered by the Philippines.

Independent and large-scale international exploration companies who have attended previous DOE roadshows in Singapore and Australia have already expressed their interest to tender their bid in the various blocks for offer.

The highly prospective oil and gas block in Cotabato covers a total of 4,560 square kilometer while those in the Sulu Sea has 4,820 sq.km.

Other areas with potential oil and gas deposits are located in Cagayan, Central Luzon, Mindoro and Palawan.

Currently, there are 28 active petroleum service contracts in the Philippines with Exxon Mobil, Shell Philippines Exploration, Nido Petroleum, BHP Billiton and Galoc Production Company among the operators. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)