Trans-Asia seeking international investments; focus on Australasia

Trans-AsiaTHE upstream arm of Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. (TA Oil) is exploring possible investment opportunities outside the Philippines, officials said yesterday.

“We are looking at assets that are near production outside the Philippines,” Francisco L. Viray, president and chief executive officer Trans-Asia Petroleum Corp. (TAPET), said during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in Makati City.

Mr. Viray, who also holds similar posts in TA Oil, said the company engaged a consultant to determine prospective areas in the petroleum business.

“We are considering the advantage of low prices of oil in other assets that we are wanting to invest in,” he noted.

Raymundo A. Reyes, Jr., TAPET executive vice-president, for his part said the company is mainly looking within Australasia.

“The study will take at least two months and then we have to do a detailed review,” Mr. Reyes said on the sidelines of the same event.

The official also said TAPET has no immediate plans to conduct fund-raising activities but added the company is open to do so in case the need arises.

“We’re actively looking at opportunities in the region, so if we find some, we will have to spend,” said Mr. Reyes.

He also emphasized that the company is not adversely affected by the slump in the world market’s oil prices since most of TAPET’s assets are still in the exploration stage.

Mr. Viray, for his part, added that the company is willing to adjust its business strategies to mitigate negative impacts, if there will be any.

“We intend to stay in the business. We just have to adjust out strategies and expenditures depending on the movements of fuel prices,” Mr. Viray said.

“We just have to aware of it if there’s a need to change or tweak strategies in order to survive,” he added.

Locally, TAPET is also keen on investing in other oil and gas areas that are offered by the government under the fifth leg of the Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR).

Asked if the company will take in a partner for the bidding, he said: “Usually, we come up with at least one partner.”

“If not, we can do it by ourselves since that will still be in the early stages,” Mr. Viray added.

Under the PECR 5, the government offered 11 petroleum blocks — scattered in Luzon and Visayas — for exploration and development.

Interested contractors are required to submit their application to the Energy department by June 30. Winning firms will be endorsed on Sept. 4.

TAPET said last year the company will at apply for at least one contract area.

TAPET currently holds 7.78% stake in service contract (SC) 6A and 14.063% in SC 6B — both located in waters of northwest of Palawan.

It also recently signed a deal with Frontier Energy Ltd. to acquire 10% participating interest in SC 50 — also offshore Palawan.

It also has a 6.67% stake in SC 51 (covering an area located in Cebu strait and waters northwest of Leyte); and 50% in SC 69 (Camotes Sea).

Through Palawan55 Exploration & Production Corp., TAPET also has a 6.82% participating interest in SC 55 in waters west of Palawan.

Profit of the parent firm sank 68.5% year on year to P180.39 million, the company’s consolidated statements of income released yesterday showed.

TA Oil’s revenues fell 15.3% to P1.708 billion, mainly due to lower contribution from the company’s power generation business.

Generation revenues declined 30% to P1.034 billion.

The lower revenue was partly tempered by the 18.2% drop in costs and expenses. — Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano

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