By Myrna M. Velasco
The energy investment arm of the Ayala group plans to eventually unload the upstream petroleum part of its acquisition from the Del Rosario-led PHINMA Energy Corporation.
“The upstream oil and gas is not our core… so we’ll need to study what to do with those after the deal closes, but we have no intention of going into oil and gas exploration,” AC Energy President and CEO John Eric T. Francia said.
He qualified though that a final decision would have to be made once the Ayala firm completes the PHINMA Energy acquisition and following the conclusion of their scheduled tender offer as targeted by second half of the year.
The definitive sale agreement was inked by the parties last month on AC Energy’s purchase of combined 68.46-percent shareholdings of PHINMA Energy Corp. The estimated transaction value is at P6.052 billion.
The portfolio of PHINMA Energy assets would include a number of thermal plants (oil and coal-fired facilities); renewable energy assets like wind plus minority stake in geothermal; and the oil and gas exploration ventures.
On the petroleum segment, Francia emphasized “we haven’t made a decision yet, but at this point, we don’t have a mandate from our board to pursue oil and gas.”
PHINMA Energy has interests in at least five petroleum service contracts in offshore Palawan and Central Visayas basins that are in various stages of exploration maturities.
The petroleum segment, which was previously under Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corporation, had been merged with its geothermal energy development unit in 2017 under new subsidiary PHINMA Petroleum and Geothermal Inc.
Some of the petroleum blocks where the company has its shareholdings on had also been affected by the exploration moratorium enforced by the government five years ago – and that has not been lifted until now.
The Philippine government itself is intensifying invitation for new investments in oil and gas exploration in the country, but for the Ayala group, this is not an investment terrain where it can claim expertise yet.