Sen. Shewin Gatchalian has filed a bill seeking to refocus the Philippine National Oil Company’s (PNOC) investment mandate into oil and gas exploration ventures, as well as to level up itself with national oil firms abroad.
Senate Bill (SB) 1992, filed last January 21, envisions PNOC to join the ranks Malaysia’s Petronas, Thailand’s PTT, Indonesia’s Petraminas, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, and Saudi Aramco, currently the world’s largest oil producer.
While Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, recognized that the government-owned oil firm had been a successful industry game-changer in the past, especially in the geothermal sector, its investment moves with regard to alternative fuels and renewable energy ventures have been less than remarkable.
This made the senator emphasis the need to shift PNOC’s investment activities to upstream oil and gas production endeavors to help the country reach its energy security and energy independence goals.
PNOC was established by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 334 back in 1973 amid the oil crisis that year. Its charter was amended seven times, the last of which was by Republic Act 7638 or the Department of Energy Act of 1992.
Gatchalian feels that PNOC is in the best position to lead in the country’s search for its next commercial oil and gas fields. It may even partner with deep-pocketed multinational investors that would help the country with its exploration investment prospects.
Currently, the Philippines only has the Malampaya gas field as its indigenous fuel source. Private firms Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. and Udenna Corporation control 90% of the project, while PNOC-Exploration Corporation owns the remaining ten percent. Malampaya’s resources are expected to be depleted by 2027.
Other than SB1992, Gatchalian also filed SB1789, or the Waste-To-Energy Bill, and SB1819, or the Midstream Natural Gas Industry Bill.