Gatchalian calls on gov’t to explore untapped oil and gas potential

PR094_20180918_Gatchalian: Rice tariffication bill to save consu

Due to continuous oil price hikes and rising inflation, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the current administration should implement an aggressive program to explore and develop the country’s untapped oil and natural gas resources.

As Chairman of the Senate energy committee, Gatchalian noted the latest global oil price hikes, which he said is the main reason for the rising inflation rate that hit a nine-year high again in September at 6.7 percent.

He emphasized the need for the country to use its own untapped oil and gas reserves throughout its islands and waters to combat the global price of crude oil now at $ 84 per barrel.

According to data from the Department of Energy (DOE), the country has around 3.5 billion of barrels of oil deposits and 24.7 cubic feet of gas deposits that are still categorized as undiscovered.

Since 2016, only 4.6 percent or 168 million barrels of oil and 3.8 trillion cubic feet of gas had been discovered.

“The Philippines is blessed with rich natural resources throughout its exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf, including natural gas and oil. Unfortunately, we have been unable to tap the full potential of these energy resources. Because of this, we have no choice but to import crude oil from oil-exporting countries, even if the price has become unconscionably high,” Gatchalian told Manila Bulletin.

“As a result of this, Filipino commuters, vehicle owners, and public utility vehicle operators have had to suffer countless economic hardships because of volatile global oil price movements. This gives us all the more reason to pursue energy self-sufficiency,” he added.

Gatchalian said that the country is still importing 94 percent of its oil requirements which totals to $9.89 billion in 2017, a 3.12 percent increase from the $7.54 billion import in 2016. To add, the DOE reports that the Philippines only has six producing service contracts, three of which are nearing depletion.

In July, the DOE said it is still looking at the awarding of at least nine more petroleum service contracts (PSCs) via its changed Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program.

“It is high time for the government to launch a Drill, Drill, Drill program which will use these untapped oil and gas resources to pursue Philippine energy independence and pave the way for the country to become an energy exporting powerhouse,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian also stated that foreign players were discouraged from conducting petroleum exploration in the Philippines due to its perceived instability.

“Investors, particularly major foreign oil and gas companies, are looking for more certainty and stability before buying into the Philippine energy sector. The government needs to address these problem areas in order for the Drill, Drill, Drill program to move forward,” he said.