DOE offers 26 new areas for oil, coal exploration

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 07 2014 07:53 AM | Updated as of May 07 2014 03:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) is offering 26 new areas for petroleum and coal exploration.

In a press conference yesterday, DOE officials announced the launch of the 5th Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR 5) on May 9.

PECR 5 will offer 11 new areas for petroleum exploration, with large concentration in Luzon, and 15 new and nominated areas for coal exploration, mostly located in Mindanao.

Energy Undersecretary Ramon Allan Oca, who is also chairman of the DOE Review and Evaluation Committee (REC), said they will be conducting international roadshows to encourage more energy players abroad to join the contracting round.

Thus, there will be roadshows in North America, Southeast Asia and Turkey.

Furthermore, the DOE will also conduct a series of information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns in the host communities and areas near the exploration areas starting this month.

The IEC for petroleum will be in Palawan, Mindoro, Iloilo and Sulu, while the IEC for coal will be in Isabela, Albay, Cebu, Davao and Zamboanga.

Through this new round, the government is eyeing new investors to explore potential coal and petroleum fields around the country.

Earlier, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the awarding of the contracts is targeted in June. However, there had been delays because the department had to verify areas that were up for bidding.

A regular activity conducted by the DOE, PECR 5 is a transparent and competitive system for awarding service contracts.

The goal is to showcase the petroleum exploration opportunities in the country and to attract energy investors to develop the country’s indigenous oil and gas resources.

In 2011, the DOE launched its 4th PECR covering 15 blocks or an area of approximately 100,339 square kilometers (km).

The blocks have an average size of 6,700 square kms each, located mostly in the country’s frontier regions.

Investments in these service contracts are huge but the returns are attractive as well, depending on their respective petroleum potential.

Proponents have to embark on seismic studies, which may cost at least $5 million, and exploration well drilling activities amounting to up to $100 million per well.

More importantly, successful exploration could yield new sources of energy for the Philippines, which is still a heavy importer of oil and thus, dependent on movements in the global crude market.