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‘Stoppage of oil exploration does not need Palace okay’

There is no need for Malacañang to approve the suspension of oil exploration in northwest Palawan because the suspension was due to force majeure, according to a Palace official.

The exploration was stopped by the Department of Energy because of the territorial dispute with China.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a text message to Palace reporters yesterday, said “The DoE’s action... is well within the scope of its authority and jurisdiction.”

The Energy Department has suspended 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 for the same reason.

 “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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