MVP sees start of exploration at Recto Bank
MANILA - Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan expressed hopes that fresh talks between Philex Mining Corp.’s Forum Energy plc and China’s state-owned oil producer China National Offshore Oil Co. Ltd. (CNOOC) would finally pave the way for exploratory works in the disputed Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
“That’s what we’re aiming for. We hope to do that to reach a commercial basis for further exploratory and drilling work on the concession but further subject to approval of their government and our government,” Pangilinan told reporters on Friday.
However, Pangilinan declined to provide details on how the talks were going, citing confidential agreements.
He said Forum is waiting for the conclusion of negotiations with CNOOC prior to engaging talks with other interested parties.
From a business perspective, he said, Forum Energy is keen to start drilling on the disputed territory “as soon as possible” but security issues prevent them from doing so.
Any agreements would also have to conform to sovereign laws, he said.
“We are a Philippine contractor so we are bound by Philippines law so we cannot do that if we do not conform to Philippine laws.
We have to recognize Philippine sovereignty,” Pangilinan said.
Forum Energy has a 70-percent stake in the area, which is covered by Service Contract 72 while Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc. holds the remaining 30 percent.
The Energy department has granted Forum Energy an extension to August 2015 to complete the second sub-phase obligations of drilling wells on SC 72. The area is estimated to contain prospective resources of as much as 16.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 416 million barrels of oil.
The department has extended Forum’s work program by two years to August 2015 from the original deadline of August 2013 to allow it to complete its obligations under the service contract.
Forum sought an extension in the government-mandated work program because of delays in their drilling activities, dragged largely by the geopolitical issues between the Philippines and China
Philex Mining owns 64.45 percent of Forum Energy through its interests in FEC Resources, Inc and Philex Petroleum Corp. The remaining interest is held by other shareholders in the UK.