By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking President Rodrigo Duterte’s imprimatur on planned purchase of ‘marine vessel’ that shall be used for scientific research to extract out data on the petroleum potential at Philippine Rise.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said he already formally submitted his recommendation to the President on the propounded vessel acquisition.
“At Philippine Rise, I proposed that we acquire a scientific exploration vessel using the Malampaya fund… I want DOE, the Philippines, to have one so I submitted already my request to the President,” the energy chief said.
Cusi said he has yet to secure Malacañang’s nod, but this is a step he is keen to pursue as some prospective investors have been setting their sights on petroleum blocks in the Philippine Rise.
“As soon as I’ll get the necessary approvals, we can already buy (the vessel),” he said, although he qualified that for now they are still on a hunt for prospective suppliers.
Based on preliminary estimates and cost surveys, the energy chief noted that a marine research vessel may require expense of as much as US$130 million.
If the department could clinch Duterte’s go-signal, Cusi will seek next the approval of Congress – this is in keeping with a previous Supreme Court decision setting forth that the use of Malampaya fund must also need the legislative branch’s permission.
Under the newly designed Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program, the DOE’s Energy Resource Development Bureau has indicated that several investor-groups have been champing on the bit as to the potential of the Philippine Rise with either oil or gas resource.
Nevertheless, energy officials noted there is no ‘serious tender’ lodged for now for Philippine Rise, because the DOE cannot offer as much data yet to interested parties.
With the proffered acquisition of a research vessel, the department is raising hopes that it can get ‘unsolicited proposals’ on prospective petroleum service areas at the Philippine Rise.