Shares of firms in West Philippine Sea surge on Philippines-China joint exploration talks
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Shares of listed companies with interests in oil and gas prospects in the West Philippine Sea surged after the Philippines and China agreed to form a special panel on possible joint exploration efforts.

As of Thursday’s close, the stock price of PXP Energy Corp. climbed 39.68 percent from P8.82 per share to P12.32 per share; Atok-Big Wedge Co. jumped 36.92 percent from P13 apiece to P17.80 apiece; and Apex Mining Co. Inc. rose 18.79 percent from P1.49 per share to P1.77 per share.

PXP Energy has a direct operating interest of 50 percent in Service Contract 75 northwest Palawan.

Meanwhile, Atok and Apex own 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively, of London-listed Forum Energy Plc., which holds a 70 percent interest in SC 72 in Recto Bank and in the Sampaguita gas field.

F. Yap Securities said the rise of PXP Energy was driven by news that the Philippines and China have approved the joint sea exploration for oil and gas in the disputed waters.

In a report by Reuters, Philippine ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said both nations have decided to form a working group on cooperating on energy.

In a text message, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the development has not yet reached his department.

To recall, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a moratorium on all exploration and drilling works in SC 72 and SC 75 in December 2014 and 2015, respectively, amid the rising maritime tension with China.

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan has been calling on government to lift the moratorium on drilling and exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea amid warming relations between the two nations.

However, Cusi had said the moratorium stays until the territorial dispute is completely ironed out, where the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is the lead agency negotiating with China.

Lack of development in oil and gas contracts could impact the Philippines negatively since it heavily relies on imports and its main and only natural gas source, the Malampaya gas project, is projected to be depleted in 2024.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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