Philippines pushes for more exploration

THE Philippines government is trying to encourage oil and gas exploration in order to discover another Malampaya-sized oil and gas field, which would let the SE Asian nation meet its goal of achieving 60% self-sufficiency by 2010.
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The offshore Malampaya field has reserves of 85 million barrels of oil and 2.7 trillion cubic feet of gas. Fuel from the field accounts for a third of the country’s electricity needs.

Speaking at the launch of the updated Philippine Energy Plan energy secretary Vincent Perez said, “We won’t reach 60% self-sufficiency if we don’t discover another Malampaya.”

“We are now accelerating oil and gas exploration that the Supreme Court has ruled on the [constitutionality of the] 1995 Mining Act.”

Meanwhile, a report in the Manila Times daily indicated the Philippine government was holding talks with three companies to conduct E&P in Malampaya following the decision of Shell Philippines Exploration BV and ChevronTexaco Philippines to pull out of developing the field's oil reserves.

The two energy giants together own a 90% stake in the field (the balance is held by the state-owned PNOC Exploration Corp) and consider the oil reserves there too small to develop.

Perez said the government needed to find other ways of extracting oil from the field, according to the Inquirer new service.

“We’re not going to wait for them," Perez said.

"If they want [to develop the oil reserves] they better hurry. But if the consortium members are really not willing to develop [the reserves], then we’ll have to bring in somebody else to do it."

PNOC Exploration president Eduardo Mañalac said three Asian firms with no existing business in the Philippines were interested in helping develop the resserves. He hinted one of the firms was from an OPEC member, indicating it was Indonesian.

Mañalac said crude could be drawn from Malampaya “by the middle of next year” and said a new consortium composed of PNOC and one of the three interested Asian firms could do the work.