PXP awaits government move on moratorium over SC 72

By Lenie Lectura – February 28, 2019
from Business Mirror

PXP Energy Corp. continues to wait for the government’s next move after it asked the Department of Energy (DOE)  to lift the moratorium on exploration and drilling works in Recto Bank under Service Contract (SC) 72.

“I understand the DOE has written the Department of Foreign Affairs because clearly it involves the relationship with China.  I believe that’s where it is. We have not officially been advised what is the next step for us.  All I know is we have written the DOE…. The DOE consults the DFA. What the DFA’s response is to the DOE, we don’t know, yet,” PXP Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said.

PXP Energy holds a 78.98-percent controlling interest in UK-based Forum Energy Plc., which has a 70-percent stake in SC 72, an oil-and-gas-exploration permit covering the Sampaguita natural-gas prospect in the Reed Bank, to the west of Palawan.

In December last year, PXP asked the DOE to lift the force majeure via a letter, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Philippines and China over cooperation in the West Philippine Sea. Pangilinan is hoping the MoU for the joint exploration in the South China Sea “could lead to some positive steps we can take in respect of the work program the group has presented to the previous government in respect of the exploration and development work.”

PXP and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) used to discuss a possible joint exploration of SC 72 to develop a part of the Reed Bank. However, talks did not prosper then after the Philippine government declared force majeure.

Even CNOOC remains quiet, Pangilinan said. “Radio silence on their part. I’m just assuming they have not gotten permission from their government. We tried to reach out to them several weeks ago.”

Once the moratorium is lifted, PXP will proceed to drill two wells within a period of 20 months at an estimated cost of $60 million. PXP is hoping exploration activities under SC 72 will yield positive results.