No need to lift WPS drilling moratorium – Cusi

By Danessa Rivera

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Cusi

MANILA, Philippines — There is no need to lift the moratorium on all exploration and drilling works in the West Philippine Sea to usher in the Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) as all contract areas will be within the Philippine territory, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

The Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP) is on track to be launched this  month, he said.

“The target is December. We will start inviting the private sector to submit offers,” he said.

The moratorium over disputed waters will not affect the new coal and petroleum contracts since these will be within the exclusive economic zone.

“We don’t need to lift because this will be the area exclusive to Philippine territory,” he said.

PCECP will replace the agency’s PECR, wherein industry players have to wait for the government to announce a new contracting round for petroleum and coal prospects.

Cusi said this should fast-track the development of the country’s indigenous sources.

PECR is a transparent and competitive system for awarding service contracts which aims to showcase the petroleum and coal exploration opportunities in the country and to attract energy investors to develop the country’s indigenous oil and gas resources.

In October, the DOE said it will start accepting offers for coal operating contracts (COC) after it issued a circular detailing the awarding of contracts and the creation of the review and evaluation committee (REC) under the PCECP.

The DOE has last launched the PECR in June 2015, during which it showcased 11 petroleum exploration contracts.

Under PECR 5, only two exploration companies have passed which the qualifying stage for three areas. These are Israel-based Ratio Oil Exploration submitted bids and qualified for Area 4, a 416,000-hectare area in East Palawan while local company Colossal Petroleum qualified for the 576,000-hectare Area 5 in East Palawan and the 468,000-hectare Area 7 in Recto Bank.

However, these have yet to be awarded because of several tax issues in previous contracts pending in courts.

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