PNOC-EC unlikely to drill within remainder of Du30 term

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Government-run PNOC-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) said it is unlikely to begin its first oil-drilling activities within the remaining days of the Duterte administration even with the government’s push for the harnessing of indigenous resources.

In a recent virtual forum, PNOC-EC President and CEO Rozzano Briguez said the company still needs to conduct further studies, which may take 12 months, before drilling. 

Briguez even admitted in a report by The Philippine Star that the state-owned firm is still uncertain whether it can start drilling for oil by or not by then, particularly for Service Contract (SC) 37 given the absence of a framework, which will take three to six months to finalize.

The SC37 block is located in the Cagayan River basin in the Isabela-Quirino area. PNOC-EC, SC37’s operator, is currently undertaking the passive seismic tomography survey in the project.

Briguez also noted that the drilling of the exploration well will depend on the result of the survey. The initial results are expected to be out before the end of the second quarter.

Other than SC37, PNOC-EC also holds the exploration rights to SC57 and SC59, both of which are within the West Philippine Sea (WPS), which is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, but is disputed by China. The state-owned firm also owns ten percent of the Malampaya consortium.

The government lifted the WPS exploration moratorium in October 2020.

SC57 has an estimated 1.8 trillion cubic feet of gas and is seen to have a big potential as it is located near Malampaya, of which its resources are expected to be depleted by 2027.

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