By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) is going to be on a five-country swing for series of roadshows to woo global oil giants to invest in the country’s new round of petroleum contracting.
The markets targeted for multi-continent investment enticements are Singapore, United States of America, Canada, United Arab Emirates (in Abu Dhabi) and all the way down to Argentina.
The Singapore leg will be this week at the Southeast Asia Petroleum Exploration Society (SEAPEX) Exploration Conference and will be headed by Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido J. Pulido III, who will be doing his presentation at the plenary session of the event. The department will also carry out one-on-one presentations with interested exploration companies.
Doubts are raised, however, if this will end up to be a successful strategy for the department given the ‘relatively domestic issues’ that it cannot even address yet on the investment policy terrain of the Philippine upstream oil and gas industry.
For one, the DOE cannot even convince its counterpart agency yet at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to lift the exploration moratorium at the diplomatically-strained areas within the West Philippine Sea – both agencies are in fact waiting for the Chinese government’s imprimatur on this.
And given the recent legal case filed by former government officials, prospects on the resolution of this concern had gotten even blurrier.
In addition, the energy department has not been able to secure yet the go-signal of Malacañang on policy modifications relating to farm-in and farm-out deals of petroleum service contracts.
These are among the major worries repeatedly sounded off by investors – and things won’t change even by global roadshows if the energy officials will not concentrate efforts on resolving these issues.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi is on his unyielding pitch for ‘Explore, Explore, Explore’ on the two-pronged tendering system for petroleum blocks under the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program.
Yet the test of ‘boldness’ of the initially interested companies will be seen next month – at the scheduled submission of offers on the 14 pre-determined areas in the country’s petroleum contracting program.
“It is urgent that we intensify our exploration and development activities. We need to become energy self-sufficient so we are better protected from international price market volatilities,” the energy chief said. The turbulent swings of prices in the world market, particularly the uptrends, have proved punishing to Filipino consumers who are scampered into a market heavily dependent on oil imports.