State-run PNOC Exploration Corp. is looking at an indicative budget of P10.684 billion for 2023, including P5.9 billion for petroleum exploration.
“We have a total of P10.6 billion indicative budget for 2023,” PNOC EC vice president for management services division Candido Magsombol said in a Senate hearing Friday.
“This still has to be approved by the PNOC EC board towards the end of the year, and also we have to firm this up together with our partners in service contracts where we have joint ventures, which is normally firmed up by the fourth quarter of the year,” Magsombol said.
PNOC EC is looking at spending P1.859 billion for coal exploration and development and P1.293 billion for the Malampaya gas project in northwest Palawan.
PNOC EC holds a 10-percent stake in Service Contract 38 or the Malampaya gas project.
It seeks P499 million budget for operational expenses and P129.85 million for capital expenditures.
Magsombol said PNOC EC, the exploration arm of Philippine National Oil Co., lined up its priority work program for next year.
“For Malampaya, our target volume is 76 billion cubic feet [of natural gas] and 2.1 million barrels of condensate. For petroleum exploration, we will conduct well drilling and well testing in Service Contact 37, seismic processing in SC 57 and farm out efforts in 57, 58 and SC 59 and continue evaluating new domestic and overseas petroleum prospects,” he said.
“We also have contingent well drilling in SC 59 and 74 as well as geological and geophysical programs in new service contract areas,” he said.
PNOC EC aims to produce 36,000 metric tons of coal from Mine 3 in Zamboanga Sibugay and continue the development of Mine 4 also within the same COC41.
“We will conduct detailed engineering design in Sta. Barbara-Malungon or the mine three extension area. We will develop the mine and conduct front-end engineering design and EPC in COC 122, where we plan to conduct mining and power plant operation,” Masombol said.
Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed a Senate resolution to establish the oil and gas potential in the West Philippine Sea to address the country’s import dependence on energy.
The Senate inquiry aims to push exploration, development and utilization of the WPS oil and gas reserves toward achieving energy security and self-sufficiency.
“Given persistent global energy shocks, it is important for us to ascertain the oil and gas potential in the West Philippine Sea for the country to have some level of stability and protection from the tumultuous geopolitical conflict in foreign countries that has severely impacted local energy prices,” Gatchalian said.
Data from the Department of Energy showed an estimated 6.203 billion barrels of total oil resources and 12,158 billion cubic feet of total gas resources in the West Philippine Sea as of 2021.
There are five petroleum service contracts in the West Philippine Sea. These are SC 54 held by Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty Ltd. in offshore northwest Palawan; SC 58 held by Nido Petroleum in West Calamian or northwest Palawan; SC 59 held by PNOC EC in Southwest Palawan; SC 72 held by Forum (GSEC101) Ltd. in Recto Bank; and SC 75 held by PXP Energy Corp. in northwest Palawan.
“The lack of oil and gas exploration and as a result of the lack of indigenous oil and gas have contributed to the country’s import dependence with 98 percent of petroleum products imported as of 2021 and lack of energy self-sufficiency,” Gatchalian said.
He said the country’s energy self-sufficiency went down from 61.4 percent in 2011 to 51.15 percent in 2021.
Gatchalian said the adverse effect of the country’s dependence on imported fuel was felt recently with the Russian invasion of Ukraine raising global crude oil prices to $120 per barrel in March from $50 per barrel in January 2021.
This resulted in gasoline pump prices reaching almost P90 per liter in June from P50 per liter previously.