DOE soon to award $7.5-B worth of new petroleum blocks

By Neil Jerome C. Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 13 2012 08:00 AM | Updated as of Sep 13 2012 04:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) is a step closer to awarding new petroleum blocks to investors, paving the way for the infusion of as much as $7.5 billion for exploration projects.

Petroleum blocks that received no bids will be offered in a new round of auction next year, a DOE official said.

“The legal, technical and financial teams of the DOE have completed the review,” DOE Undersecretary Jose Layug Jr. said.

The Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) 4 attracted 20 offers for 11 petroleum blocks and 69 bids for 28 coal areas.

In July last year, the DOE launched PECR 4, offering 15 new petroleum exploration projects and 38 coal blocks nationwide that will require around $7.5 billion in investments.

Layug did not disclose how many bids passed the technical evaluation.

PECR 4, the biggest offering of the country so far, comprises three onshore and 12 offshore blocks with a total area of more than 10 million hectares mostly located in Northwest Palawan and East Palawan that are in the West Philippine Sea and Sulu Sea basins.

But areas that received no bids will be auctioned anew next year.

“We will include these in the next PECR,” Layug said.

“Our thrust is to find these resources so every two years we keep on conducting PECRs,” Layug said.

In the past three PECRs, the DOE received only 12 total bids.

However, the DOE targets securing seismic surveys to provide preliminary data on the available resources for petroleum projects that will encourage investors.

“Based on our assessment, the reason why these four [petroleum] areas did not receive any bid is the lack of data, which our prospective bidders were looking for,” Layug said.

For coal, 10 areas that received no bids will be included in the PECR 5 next year.

To date, there are 27 service contracts in the Philippines involving Shell Philippines Exploration, Nido Petroleum and BHP Billiton. However, only the Malampaya and Galoc oil fields are in regular production.

The DOE is pursuing energy independence and sustainability through the development of indigenous energy resources like coal, petroleum and natural gas.