Philex eyes ‘undisputed’ oil and gas blocks

Katherine Visconti
Manual Pangilinan confirmed his company's interest in an oil and gas block in Northern Palawan, which he says is "not the subject of a territorial disagreement"

ENERGY BLOCKS. Areas for offer under the Fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round. Photo courtesy of Department of Energy.

MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said his group is eyeing energy blocks in the Philippines that are not in disputed areas.

On Tuesday, May 8, Pangilinan told reporters that Philex Petroleum, the oil and gas unit of Philex Mining where he is chair, has submitted a bid for some of the 15 energy blocks that the Department of Energy has lined up for auctioning under the Fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR4).

“We submitted a bid two Fridays ago,” he said during a press briefing on Tuesday, May 8, referring to an energy block in the Sulu Sea. 

He stressed that Sulu Sea is located in an area that is “not a subject of a territorial dispute.”

Currently, Philex Petroleum has a stake in Recto Bank, site of the country’s largest discovered natural gas deposits, but is a subject of an ongoing geopolitical dispute between Philippines and China.

Taiwan, too, has protested Philex’s exploration activities at the site, which is located around 200 kilometers west of Palawan.

Amid rising tensions over China and the Philippines (largely due to recent conflicting claims to the Scarborough Shoal), Pangilinan flew to Beijing last week to discuss jointly exploring Recto Bank with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), one of China’s 3 state-owned oil firms.

Philex has a stake in London-listed Forum Energy that was granted by the Philippine government the right to explore the Sampaguita fields in Recto Bank through Service Contract 72 (SC-72).

Philex also has interests in exploration assets in Peru and Vietnam via Pitkin Petroleum Plc.

Pangilinan said they are also “assessing” the other energy blocks under PECR4.

Energy blocks

Under PECR4, the Department of Energy is bidding out these energy blocks with a total area of more than 10 million hectares. 

Of the 15 blocks, Areas 3, 4 and 5 face the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea) and are near the potentially energy-rich Spratly islands, which are claimed in part or entirely by Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

DOE earlier said it would open bidding for Area 3, 4, and 5 on July 31st.

Last April 27, the DOE accepted 16 total bids, of which 9 were accepted and 7 were rejected for not complying with the bid requirements.

Of the 12 blocks that DOE offered 12, Area 6 in Mindoro Cuyo, as well as Areas 8, 9 and 13 in East Palawan did not receive a single bid.

Thirty-eight companies previously pre-qualified to join the bidding for the PECR4 blocks.

Aside from Forum/Philex, those that expressed interest were: Shell Philippines Exploration B.V., PetroEnergy Resources Corp., Nido Petroleum Philippines, PNOC Exploration Corp., Golden Dragon Oil and Gas Corp., Mindanao Asia Int’l Energy, Southernpec Philippines Inc., CalEnergy Resources Ltd., GDF Suez, KrisEnergy Pte. Ltd., Esso Exploration International Ltd., Caranarvon Petroleum Ltd..  KRX Energy Pty Ltd., Repsol Exploracion S.A., South China Resources Inc., Desco. – Rappler.com