The Philippines received only three offers in a rights tender for 11 hydrocarbon exploration blocks, a low turnout that energy officials attributed to investors taking a cautious stance amid a bearish outlook for oil prices.
The Department of Energy said a Philippine company called Colossal Petroleum was the lone bidder for a site — called Area 7 — in the Reed Bank in the hotly contested South China Sea, and for the Northwest Palawan Block in southwestern Philippines.
A second bidder, identified as Ratio Oil Exploration, was interested in the Northeast Palawan Block.
“The main reason for the low turnout is oil prices. A lot of companies are doing some adjustments in their budgets and are not inclined to expand their portfolios at this time,” said Rino Abad, a director at the Energy Resource Development Bureau.
The government has accepted the three applications for further evaluation, and the decision to award exploration contracts may come within the next two months, he told reporters.
The Area 7 block in the Reed Bank lies adjacent to the petroleum-producing Northwest Palawan Basin, which is well within the Southeast Asian country’s territory.
The block covers an exploration site of about 468,000 hectares, with an estimated resource potential of 165 million barrels of oil and 3,486 billion cubic feet of gas, the Department of Energy says.
Manila has indefinitely suspended all exploration work involving the Sampaguita gas block of Philex Petroleum Corp. at Reed Bank, as it pursues international arbitration over territorial disputes.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines and Vietnam, along with Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, claim parts of it.
In 2011, Chinese patrol vessels almost rammed a survey ship contracted by a unit of Philex to carry out exploration in the disputed waters.
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