Senate wants PNOC to focus on oil and gas exploration

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Given the Malampaya gas field’s depleting resources, the Senate energy committee is filing a measure that seeks to repurpose the investment function of state-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), so it can focus on oil and gas exploration ventures.

PNOC, which has a mandate is to explore oil and gas within the country, had ventured into other industries since its establishment in 1973. But with the proposed legislation, energy committee chairman Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian hopes that the company’s investments would just be focused on oil and gas given that there are still many parts of the country that are unexplored or underexplored.

Proposals had already been made to reintegrate subsidiary PNOC Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) into its parent firm, which would then take on the exploration ventures in the country’s upstream oil and gas industry.

The committee’s bill intends to have the PNOC enjoy similar success as that of Malaysian counterpart Petronas and Indonesia’s Pertamina among others.

While PNOC-EC has exploration activities in the pipeline, it indicated the need for more technically experienced and more financially capable partners to proceed with their planned undertakings.

PNOC-EC currently holds ten percent of the Malampaya gas-to-power project. Its parent firm is looking at whether or not it is prudent to buy Shell’s 45% stake. Gatchalian, however, had pointed out the state-run firm may not have enough technical know-how to take over the operations of the gas field.

PNOC-EC also operates Service Contract 59, which was among those allowed to resume exploration activities following the lifting of the moratorium in the West Philippine Sea.

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