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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

DFA to set time, venue of oil, gas talks between PHL and China–Lotilla

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Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said Monday his office is awaiting guidance from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the resumption of negotiations between China and the Philippines in the area of oil and gas exploration.

“We are to be guided by the DFA in so far as to the timing of the talks as well as the venue. We will have to await their guidance. This will have to be discussed,” he said during an online press conference.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently met with his Philippine counterpart Ferdinand Marcos Jr. China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing is willing to continue to work with the Philippines to properly deal with maritime issues in “a friendly and consultative manner,” restart negotiations on oil and gas development, promote cooperation on oil and gas development in non-disputed areas, and develop cooperation on green energy such as photovoltaic, wind energy and new-energy vehicles.

Commenting on this, the Department of Energy (DOE) chief said, “Our presidents have agreed in principle. What it establishes is a healthy environment for talks to take place.”

Now that there is a commitment to move forward, both countries agreed to resume discussions at an early date, building upon the outcomes of previous talks.

“In the meantime, we are proceeding with the oil and gas development in other areas of the country and as Undersecretary Alessandro Sales indicated in the past, we will be open to foreign and domestic investors carrying out development activities,” said Lotilla.

For instance, Lotilla said state firm Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) is looking for farm-in partners interested to take in a majority stake in Service Contract (SC) 59 located offshore which covers 14,769 square kilometers offshore Palawan, west of Balabac Island.

“In case of PNOC-EC, it has announced an invitation for potential farm ins to a number of service contracts under its control. As far as those are concerned, we can proceed with that,” said Lotilla, who is also the chairman of PNOC-EC.

PNOC-EC is looking for a joint venture operator for the 75-percent participating interest in SC 59. Interested parties have until February 10 to submit their technical and financial proposals.

“As far as those are concerned, we can proceed with that,” added Lotilla. Earlier, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said PXP Energy, which holds interest in two petroleum exploration service contracts in the West Philippine Sea, are in talks with Chinese companies.

Pangilinan-led PXP and Forum Energy Ltd. earlier suspended all activities in SC 72 and SC 75 in compliance with the directive from the DOE to “put all on hold all exploration activities for SC 75 and SC 72 until such time that the Security, Justice and Peace Coordinating Cluster (SJPCC) has issued the necessary clearance to proceed.”

Listed PXP holds 50 percent interest in SC 75.

Forum Energy, in which PXP holds a direct and indirect interest of 79.13 percent, has a 70 percent participating interest in SC 72. PXP has a total economic interest of 54.36 percent in SC 72.

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