PNOC-EC eyes production from area near Malampaya by 2026

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2020 04:30 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2020 04:06 AM

MANILA - The Philippine National Oil Company - Exploration Corp said Tuesday it could start drilling in an area near Malampaya next year after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the moratorium on oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

If the timeline works, oil production could start by late 2026 or early 2027, PNOC-EC president Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez said during a Senate budget hearing. 

Drilling is set to start next year, he said.

Briguez said the PNOC-EC was focused on 2 service contracts namely SC 57 and SC 59, which he said were located within the "disputed areas" and one in Northwest Palawan. 

After the moratorium was lifted, the PNOC-EC proceeded with several actions to "move forward" with SC 57 and SC 59, Briguez said. The agency will also pursue SC 75 and SC 58. [LIFTED]

The terms of reference for the SC 57 is currently being validated by the Department of Energy and will also invite other proponents to join the project. 

"Once approved, we will farm it out and proceed with the additional studies and exploration drilling for SC 57," Briguez said.

"Our timeline is, if we start drilling by 2021, hopefully in 5 years time we will go into production and that is in 2026," he added.

The said SC 57, estimated to be 1.8 trillion cubic feet, has so much "potential" since it is located near the Malampaya project.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, said the projected 2026 production was "good news."

"And it’s really about time for PNOC as the national oil company to start developing that area. Tutal kayo naman may hawak (since you're holding) ng service contract," Gatchalian said.

The moratorium on oil exploration was imposed by the Philippines while awaiting a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which in 2016 invalidated China's claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. 

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said the Philippines need not drop the arbitral win nor the country's sovereignty in the resumption of oil exploration in the West Philippine sea.

Cusi said forming a joint venture with Chinese firms was also a possibility.

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