ENERGY Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has advised PXP Energy Corp. to apply for an exploration and drilling program for its stalled project within the area in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea, a move that would prompt the agency’s next step in the disputed seas.
“We’ll see. I will await their application and then work from there,” he said when asked whether an drilling application would trigger the lifting of the exploration moratorium.
“They can apply,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Energy Investment Forum 2018 at the Shangri-La at the Fort in Taguig City on Tuesday.
“That’s why even in our PCECP (Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program) we have 14 pre-determined areas. We offered these to the prospective investors. But we don’t limit them to those pre-determined areas. If they have any identified, if they have preference in the areas that are available then they can make theirs, they can apply,” he added.
PXP Energy directly and indirectly owns 77.5% of Forum Energy Ltd., a London-listed company whose main asset is a controlling interest in offshore exploration Service Contract (SC) 72 west of Palawan island in the disputed seas.
SC 72 is covered by the decision handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in the Netherlands on July 12, 2016. The court ruled that Reed Bank, where SC 72 lies, is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone as defined under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
On March 2, 2015, the DoE placed SC 72 under force majeure because the contract area falls within the disputed area, which was the subject of the arbitration process.
Under the terms of the force majeure, exploration work at SC 72 is suspended from Dec. 15, 2014 until the DoE notifies Forum Energy that it may continue drilling.
“I-express ninyo, kasi kung sabihin namin na mag-operate na kayo eh ayaw naman ninyo, anong magagawa ko (Express it, because if I say that you operate but you don’t want to, what can I do),” he told PXP Energy President Daniel P. Carlos on the sidelines of the same event.
“Pero if you tell me that you are ready then I will look at that paper,” he said. “Gawan n’yo ng sulat na (Write a letter) we are ready to resume our exploration and we’d like to ask clearance.”
Sought for comment, Mr. Carlos said that the company was waiting for the DoE to inform it of the lifting of the moratorium. “Kami pala ang magi-initiate (It turns out, we are the ones to initiate).”
Mr. Carlos said he would discuss with the PXP Energy board on the next step.
“Kung ganu’n ang sinabi n’ya na sa’min pala manggagaling, request kami to lift the force majeure. Kasi sila ang nag-impose no’n. So nag-aantay kami ng instruction from the DoE (if as what he said, it would come from us, that we should request to lift the force majeure, because they were the ones who imposed that. So we were waiting for instruction from the DoE),” he said.
(December 5, 2018). Cusi says PXP Energy should apply for lifting of exploration moratorium. Business World. Retrieved from https://www.bworldonline.com/cusi-says-pxp-energy-should-apply-for-lifting-of-exploration-moratorium/