MANILA - The Philippines and an Israeli firm on Wednesday signed a 7-year oil exploration deal covering an area east of Palawan amid government's efforts to boost the country's local supply.
Photos Malacañang released Thursday showed President Rodrigo Duterte meeting with Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz and officials of Ratio Petroleum Ltd. for the signing ceremony of the petroleum service contract for the east Palawan area.
The exploration deal is under the fifth round of the Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR-5) circular.
The Department of Energy (DOE) said Ratio Petroleum submitted bids and qualified for Area 4, a 416,000-hectare area in east Palawan.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the deal will help give energy security for Filipinos.
“The President has been very clear – our country needs to attain energy security and sustainability at the soonest possible time. We are currently experiencing how our dependence on importation has left us at the mercy of price movements in the global oil markets,” Cusi said in a statement.
“We need to boost the exploration and development of our own energy resources and the awarding of the petroleum service contract to Ratio Petroleum is a step in the right direction.”
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier said soaring world petroleum prices drove the country's quickening inflation. He also lamented the Philippines' lack of its own supply.
The PECR-5 circular, issued under the previous administration, “reiterates the government’s promotion of the exploration, development, and production of the country’s indigenous petroleum and coal resources through a transparent and competitive system for awarding service and operating contracts with local and foreign investors,” according to the energy department.
The DOE said the projected minimum total expenditure is pegged at US$34.35 million "to be derived from studies, data gathering and drilling activities over the initial 7-year contract duration."
The Philippines is now racing to tap oil resources as the Malampaya natural gas field off Palawan can only supply gas up to 2029.
The President has repeatedly cited the Philippines’ lack of oil supply as the reason it lagged behind its neighbors.