Ayala seeking foreign partner for newly bought petroleum unit

Phinma Petroleum and Geothermal Inc., now controlled by Ayala Group through AC Energy Inc., plans to take in a strategic partner as it pursues opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

“First, we would like upstream to be developed. Having studied the upstream oil and gas exploration potential in the Philippines, we think that sector is under-invested,” AC Energy chief executive Eric Francia said.

Francia said the Philippine oil and gas sector remained largely unexplored.

“If you look at the last decade or so, there was hardly any significant or meaningful exploration activities. We have plans of making sure that we are able to address the development potential of the asset,” Francia said.

“We may be bringing in partners in the future… I think the idea is over time, we will bring in at least one strategic partner. Most likely foreign. In all likelihood, it’s gonna be foreign with experience, big balance sheet and expertise in oil and gas exploration,” Francia said.

He also said Phinma Petroleum would be renamed ACE Enexor Inc. and would focus on two exploration blocks, including Service Contract 55 and Service Contract 6.

Francia said Phinma Petroleum planned to go into the appraisal period and committed to drill one appraisal well in SC 55 “to really assess the commerciality of the resource.”

Palawan 55 Exploration & Production Corp., a subsidiary of Phinma Petroleum, along with joint venture partners earlier notified the Energy Department of its commitment to drill a deepwater well in SC 55 in southwest Palawan within the next two years.

Palawan 55 holds a 37.5-percent participating interest in and is the operator of SC 55, a deep-water block located in the southwest Palawan Basin, covering an area of 9,880 square kilometers.

It is in the middle of a proven regional oil and gas fairway that extends from the productive Borneo offshore region in the southwest to the offshore Philippine production assets northwest of Palawan. 

“The other is SC 6 but we are only a minority in that area,” Francia said. 

Phinma Petroleum owns a 7.7-percent stake in SC 6  Block A and a 2.5-percent stake in SC Block B which is also located in northwest Palawan.

Francia said the company was hoping that the tax case on the Malampaya gas project would be resolved to remove the uncertainties in the oil industry.

“The oil and gas industry is still awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on the Malampaya case so we hope that will be resolved soon to provide more clarity in the industry because as you can imagine, it is an uncertainty that is hanging over everyone,” he said.

AC Energy completed the acquisition of a total of 7.5 billion shares or 68 percent of Phinma Energy Corp.  for a total of P6.3 billion in June.

Phinma Petroleum was a former subsidiary of Phinma Energy.

Topics: Phinma Petroleum and Geothermal Inc. , Phinma Petroleum , AC Energy Inc. , Ayala Group
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