Forum Energy plc, a British oil and gas exploration firm majority owned by businessmen Manny Pangilinan, remains hopeful that the development of Service Contract 72 (Recto Bank) will finally proceed this year with only the government’s go-signal being awaited.
Philex Petroleum Corp. President Carlo Pablo said Forum Energy is waiting for word from the Department of Energy (DOE) on when to proceed with exploratory drilling at Recto Bank.
Pablo earlier said that a geotechnical survey, which will help prepare Forum to determine the areas that have strong potential for oil and gas, is being proposed in the second quarter of 2015.
“It depends on the DOE’s instructions on the drilling schedule,” said Pablo.
He said any exploratory drilling plans will have to wait until such time as the government gives them the go-signal because they “are only a contractor to the government.”
But he expressed high hopes that the DOE would give them the green light within the year.
Philex Petroleum holds a 60.45 percent direct and indirect interest in Forum. On the other hand, Forum owns a 70-percent operating interest in SC 72 located in the West Philippine Sea.
The Energy department has extended Forum’s exploration license by another year or until August 2016.
Forum Energy sought for an extension of its service contract obligations with the government due to its continuing inability to conduct drilling exploration amid the ongoing territorial dispute with China involving Recto Bank.
Energy officials earlier said the Philippines is still waiting for the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, seeking to invalidate the claims of China in the South China Sea.
Philex Mining chairman Manuel Pangilinan earlier said they plan to undertake studies this year so there could be a seismic study done as early as April or May next year.
“Afterwards, drilling for the proposed two wells for appraisal shall be in 2016,” he said.
As soon as arrangements are finalized, Pangilinan said Forum will advise the government and, as a matter of courtesy, CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Co. Ltd., an upstream oil and gas firm owned by the Chinese government) as well.
Pangilinan is also hoping to forge a commercial agreement with CNOOC to defuse tensions with China and pave the way for exploratory drilling at SC 72.
SC 72 covers an 8,800-square-kilometer area offshore of west Palawan.
It is estimated to contain prospective resources of as much as 16.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 416 million barrels of oil.