Speaking exclusively to EnergyReview.net in Perth, DOE Undersecretary Guillermo Balce said several companies had already approached the Philippines National Oil Company regarding joint venture opportunities.
“We don’t know how many are really interested [in tendering] but we have already noted several companies trying to partner with the Philippines National Oil Company,” Balce said.
Proposals for the four contract areas, which range in size from 12,000 to 15,000 square kilometres in shallow to “ultra deep” waters near proven petroleum systems in the Southwest Palawan and Sulu Sea basins, are due by November 29, 2005.
The southern block is along trend on the same structure as a recent oil discovery by Murphy Oil, while other blocks are near the 2.6 trillion cubic feet Malampaya offshore field, the largest natural gas development in the country’s history, owned by Shell, Texaco and PNOC.
The Philippines is a growing consumer of energy, offering a ready market for any discoveries, Balce said.
“We have a well established gas market, which means that even small oil and gas discoveries can be commercial – we don’t expect stranded gas,” he said.
David Whitby, managing director of Nido Petroleum, which expects to begin production from its Galoc oil development in early 2007, said Nido was looking at the blocks with a view to tendering.
A court ruling in February that established security of tenure for mineral rights had also benefited the oil and gas industry, Whitby said.
“Prior to the February court ruling very few work blocks were awarded,” Whitby said.
“Since February they have awarded 11, so the activity has very much been upgraded significantly as a result of the Supreme Court ruling over land tenure, which had always been a bit of a black cloud over investment.”
The Philippines Government is also offering geothermal and coal blocks as part of the same contracting round.