MVP Group pushes JV talks with CNOOC for Recto Bank

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 12 2014 10:07 AM | Updated as of Jan 12 2014 06:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The group of business titan Manuel V. Pangilinan is aiming to reach a commercial agreement with state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co. Ltd. (CNOOC) to finally pave the way for exploratory works at the disputed Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, its spokesperson yesterday said.

Mike Toledo, spokesperson for the MVP Group, said any commercial agreement would be subject to the approval of both the Chinese and Philippine governments.

“We are aiming to reach a commercial basis for further exploratory and drilling work on the concession but further subject to approval of their government and our government,” Toledo told The STAR.

Earlier, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla urged Pangilinan’s group to enter into commercial arrangements with China’s premier oil producer despite an ongoing territorial dispute in the Recto Bank.

Pangilinan led Forum Energy holds a 70 percent stake in Service Contract 72, which covers Recto Bank.

Petilla said one permanent solution to soaring electricity prices is to drill more oil and gas fields to lessen the country’s dependence on the Malampaya gas field in offshore Palawan.

Electricity prices soared last year with the record increase in the generation charge of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, of P3.44 per kilowatt-hour.

“The permanent solution is to drill again but we can only do that if we have a clear signal from the DND (Department of National Defense),” Petilla said.

As such, he said he is urging private investors such as Pangilinan’s group to enter into commercial arrangements among themselves.

“That is why I am asking the private sector to see if there can be commercial arrangement among themselves while respecting the service contract terms of the Philippines,” Petilla said.

Toledo likewise expressed hopes their group would be allowed to explore the area.

“If we can for the moment put aside sovereignty and jurisdictional issues and allow us to explore because if we find nothing of commercial value, what’s there to quibble about?” Toledo pointed out.

The area is estimated to contain prospective resources of as much as 16.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 416 million barrels of oil.

Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc. holds the remaining 30 percent stake in the contract.