US, UK firms to search for oil in RP

- Donnabelle L. Gatdula -
The Department of Energy (DOE) is set to award oil exploration contracts to US-based the Forum Exploration Inc. and Premier Oil of UK, an energy official said.

At the same time, some Russian and Chinese exploration and mining companies have expressed interest to look into the possibility of engaging in mining and oil depot storage activities in Nonoc Island in Mindanao.

"Forum and the DOE are in the process of negotiating a service contract that will cover part of Manila Bay and Central Luzon area. We are in the final stages of negotiations but the contract has not yet been signed or consummated," Energy Undersecretary Eduardo Mañalac said.

Mañalac said talks with Premier Oil, on the other hand, are already in the final stages. "Premier Oil of UK is looking into areas in the Ragay Gulf," he said.

The energy official said Premier wants to extend its onshore and offshore exploration all the way to South of Ticao Pass between Sorsogon and Ticao Island in Masbate.

"It is not a very big company but we would like to see increasing exploration activities in the country," Manalac said.

Manalac also reported that there are about 12 to 15 companies – ranging from medium-sized, independent, integrated exploration companies – from North America, United States, Europe, Russia, and Australia that have expressed interest in the first Philippine Petroleum Public Contracting Round-I (PCR-I).

Last week, Energy Secretary Vincent S. Perez named some Texas-based exploration firms that have signified interest in joining the bidding for the 46 petroleum exploration blocks in Sulu Sea, Palawan and Reed Bank under the PCR-I. These are Amerada Hess, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Marathon Oil Corp., and Hunt Oil Corp.

Meanwhile, Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel de Dios said the DOE has received proposals from Chinese and Russian mining and oil exploration groups to explore and put up storage facilities in Nonoc Island.

Last year, the DOE has convinced the Iranian Oil Co. to establish an oil warehouse in the island as part of its strategy to expand its oil supply network.

Aside from the Iran-based oil firm, several Russian firms have also expressed interest in the potential of Nonoc Island as an oil storage hub.

Russia-based Yukos, one of the world’s largest non-state fully-integrated oil and gas companies with proven oil reserves of 12.581 billion barrels and gas reserves of 4.490 trillion cubic feet, has expressed willingness to study the feasibility of exploring oil and gas reserves in the Philippines.

Another Russian oil firm, Sakhalin Energy, a joint venture among Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi, has started supplying oil to Shell. At present, Sakhalin Energy supplies high quality oil only to Japan , Korea and Taiwan in the Asian region.

These Russian oil companies were also invited to consider setting up an oil storage facility on Nonoc Island located in Northern Mindanao that may be used as their transit point to distribute products in the Greater Asian region.

Two other major oil companies in Russia – Sibneft and Rosneft - have expressed interest in the exploration sector in the Philippines following discussions on the country’s oil and gas development opportunities.

Sibneft is one of Russia’s most progressive oil companies with proven crude reserves of four billion barrels and gas reserves of some 52 billion cubic meters while Rosneft is engaged in prospecting and exploration of hydrocarbon deposits, crude oil and gas extraction and sales of oil, gas and oil products in Russia and elsewhere.












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