By Myrna M. Velasco
Despite the red carpet being rolled out for it by the Philippine government and prospective local firm-partners, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has not returned yet on targeted petroleum exploration ventures in the country.
For the Recto Bank oil and gas exploration activity, PXP Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the Chinese firm has not gotten back to them for definitive action plan on the targeted extended seismic survey and drilling in the block.
“No talks recently. I’m just assuming that they (CNOOC executives) have not gotten permit from their government yet to talk to us,” he said.
Pangilinan disclosed that PXP Energy reached out to them again just several weeks ago, and when media asked about the Chinese firm’s response, he said “zero.”
The business magnate qualified though “my guess is that, they have not been given permission by their government to talk to us, I’m just guessing. I don’t know them that well, I don’t know how the Chinese government works – and it’s none of my business, that’s why I’m just guessing.”
CNOOC’s re-entry into the Recto Bank oil and gas exploration venture is via the fresh initiative of Davao businessman and Presidential friend Dennis Uy, who invited the Chinese company for a tie-up with his Dennison Holdings Corporation.
That Dennis Uy firm in turn had subscribed into the shareholdings of PXP Energy of the Pangilinan Group, as well as in Philex Mining Corporation for aggregate value of P4.03 billion.
Uy’s company made its down payment for the shares acquisition in January this year; cementing his company’s way then for it to corner a board set in the MVP-controlled firm – with a discretion for Vice Chairman post.
PXP Energy has been advancing steps to finally resume seismic activity at the Recto petroleum block, and the latest step it had done in December was to formally ask government to have the enforced exploration moratorium be finally lifted.
The Pangilinan-led firm’s correspondence was channeled to the Department of Energy (DOE), which had the letter subsequently referred to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
On that complicated diplomatic tussle with the Chinese government that fundamentally affected the Philippine oil and gas exploration ventures, it is expected that it will be President Rodrigo Duterte who will be rendering the final decision on lifting the exploration moratorium.
As far as PXP Energy is concerned, it noted that it will have to wait for the government’s action before it can move ahead with exploration activities’ planning.
“All we know is we’ve written the DOE: will you please lift the moratorium, so we can get to our work program – please allow us to execute the next program… so that’s where it is, we have not been officially advised what is the next step for us,” Pangilinan stressed.