Emilia Narni J. David
THIRTY-EIGHT firms have signed up as possible bidders for 15 oil and gas prospects in the Philippines, including two exploration sites which China claims as its own, an Energy official said yesterday at the close of submissions.
This comes on top of forty-two firms that expressed interest in the auction of coal exploration sites offered up under the 4th Philippine Energy Contracting Round.
The list of prospective bidders for oil and gas sites includes giants Shell Philippines Exploration B.V., Total E&P Activities Petrolieres, Esso Exploration International Ltd., French gas and power firm GDF Suez, Spain’s Repsol Exploracion S.A. and Italy’s ENI, a list made available to the press showed.
Other bidders include Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty. Ltd., Philex Petroleum Corp. and Mitra Energy.
“What is interesting is that we have attracted new big players in the oil industry,” Energy Undersecretary Jose M. Layug, Jr. said in a briefing.
The Energy department also renewed assertions that all of the 15 areas being offered for oil and gas exploration are within Philippine territory.
Two of these areas, area 3 and 4 are located in northwest Palawan near the disputed Reed Bank area where service contract 72 is located. The Reed Bank area was the subject of controversy last year when two Chinese ships allegedly intimidated a survey vessel of Forum Energy Plc., the operator of service contract 72.
The Chinese government is claiming much of the area surrounding the South China Sea is within their jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, 42 firms have expressed interest to bid for coal exploration sites by yesterday’s deadline, Mr. Layug added.
This, even as some local bans on open-pit mining have recently affected some ventures here.
“All are local firms because of the 60-40 rule but there foreign firms that want to partner with local companies,” said Mr. Layug, referring to foreign equity limits that require Filipinos to own majority of ventures.
He added these companies have nominated some of the 30 areas being offered in the coal contracting round.
The department originally required interested bidders to submit pre-qualification documents by Jan. 31 and bid proposals by March 1. The deadlines were moved to Feb. 29 for pre-qualification and March 30 for bid proposals.
The Philippines is offering 30 areas in the country for coal exploration and in hopes of eventual commercial production.
Firms that have sent letters of interest are Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC), Empire Asia Mining Corp., Altura Mining Phils., Corp., SKI Mining Corp., Mincoal Recoursus Naturales Development Corp., Philex Petroleum Corp., Bislig Venture Construction and Development, Inc., Mineral Exploration & Geo-Analysis Phils., Inc., Benguet Corp., SJH Coal Mining Development Corp., Guidance Management Corp., MCCI Corp., South Davao Development Corp., DMC-Construction Equipment Resources, Inc., Semirara Mining Corp., Romyraq Holdings, Inc. and Square Resources Holdings, Inc. The department declined to disclose the rest of the firms’ names.