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PXP Energy hopes to continue exploration in SC areas

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Listed upstream and oil gas firm PXP Energy Corp. is hoping to continue exploration in its service contract (SC) areas in the West Philippine Sea to  determine if there is gas in the area.

“I would hope so,”PXP Energy chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters when asked if the company was  considering exploring its SC contract areas.

“We need to determine whether there’s gas in the area because it’s very important to the country, especially because of what’s happening in the country if we really want to attain some degree of energy independence,”Pangilinan said.

“If there’s no gas there, maybe the degree of difficulty will be lessened,”he said.

In April, the Department of Energy (DOE) had put on hold activities in prospects in the West Philippine Sea pending clearance from the Security, Justice and Peace Coordinating Cluster (SJPCC).

SC 72 – or Recto Bank – is operated by Forum GSEC 101 Ltd.,  a 79.13 percent subsidiary of PXP Energy’s unit Forum Energy Ltd., with a 70 percent participating interest. PXP has a total economic interest of 54.36 percent in SC 72.

SC 75 in northwest Palawan is directly operated by PXP Energy with a 50 percent participating interest.

“It’s easy enough to say if we have a committed work program.  But as recently as April this year, we had several boats out there, non-combatant boats doing survey works, principally ecological objectives in mind to determine where to drill, where to work on, and identify suitable sites to work on,”Pangilinan said.

“Even with the best of intentions on our part, because we want to continue with our work program precisely to determine once and for all if there is gas or none, but if the outside forces stop you, what can we do? Who will protect us? We are a private sector company. Those boats are leased by us, those are not Filipino-registered boats,”Pangilinan said.

In a statement over the weekend, the Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the SJPCC for safety and security concerns  said it continues to pursue talks with existing service  contract holders so they can proceed with their work programs.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier told The Star the government’s decision to halt discussions with China, at least under the Duterte administration, should not deter companies with service contracts (SCs) in the disputed waters from pursuing their work program.

“SC holders are mandated to pursue exploration,” he said.

When asked if SC holders can start resuming their work program after the April suspension order, Cusi said they may do so. “But they need to coordinate with DOE their activities,” he said.

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