Govt widens ban on Palawan oil exploration areas

The government has ordered the suspension of oil and gas exploration activities in more areas northwest off Palawan, amid the territorial dispute with China.

The Energy Department declared a force majeure on service contract 75, an oil and gas bloc offshore northwest Palawan, which is controlled by Philex Petroleum Corp., the oil and gas unit of Philex Mining Corp.

“Under the terms of the force majeure, all exploration work at SC 75 shall be immediately suspended effective from the end of its first sub-phase on 27 December 2015 until the date the DoE notifies the company resume petroleum related activities,” Philex Petroleum said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.

The government made the declaration after Philex Petroleum sought for clarification from the Energy Department on SC 75, which is also located near SC 72 (Recto Bank) and SC 58 (West Calamian), all in northwest Palawan.

SC 72 and SC 58 are also now under suspension, after they were declared under force majeure.

“As a result, the second sub-phase [SP-2] of SC 75 has been put on hold under further notice. The terms of SP-2 and all subsequent sub-phases will be extended by the term of the force majeure,” the company said.

Philex Petroleum holds a 50-percent direct interest in SC 75 while PNOC Exploration Corp. owns 35 percent and PetroEnergy Resources Corp. has the remaining 15 percent.

Philex Petroleum earlier completed the acquisition of 2,237 line-kilometers of 2D seismic data in SC 75.

The processing and interpretation of the 2D seismic data was supposed to be completed early this year.

Philex Petroleum, through Forum Energy Plc., earlier suspended works on Recto Bank (SC 72), following the declaration of force majeure amid the ongoing geopolitical tensions with China.

The department earlier granted Forum an extension of schedule to complete the second exploration sub-phase of SC 72 by one year to Aug. 15, 2016.

Philex Petroleum holds a 60.49 percent voting interest and a 48.76 percent economic interest in Forum.

Philex Petroleum is an upstream oil and gas company incorporated in the Philippines whose shares are listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

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