MVP group awaits govt's nod on Recto Bank drilling delays

MANILA, Philippines - The business group caught in the middle of the geopolitics in the disputed South China Sea (also West Philippine Sea) is waiting for the government's approval of its request to extend the deadlines for its drilling and survey activities at Recto Bank.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Friday, January 18, Philex Petroleum Corp. said its unit, Forum Energy Plc, a UK-registered oil and gas exploration and production company, has yet to receive word from the Department of Energy (DOE) if it could miss some of the deadlines in its approved work program.

A work program details investment commitments as well as scheduled phases of exploration and drilling activities of the private group granted a license covering an energy bloc identified by the government as part of its sovereign territory. Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Forum Energy has a 70% interest in the service contract covering Recto Bank that the Philippine government awarded in 2010.

"Drilling work had been scheduled to be concluded at Service Contract 72 within the second sub-phase of the service contract on or before 14 August 2013. However the requisite approvals from the DOE to conduct the proposed work program (comprising of a geotechnical survey and the drilling of two appraisal wells) have to-date not been received," Forum said.

The Philippines is asserting its sovereign rights over portions of the disputed sea, while China is claiming all of it.

Pangilinan told a briefing on January 17 that their group is in talks with the state-owned Chinese oil company CNOOC for possible commercial deal over SC72. -