Senate mulls revamp of PNOC mandate

By Myrna M. Velasco

A legislative measure being contemplated by the Senate committee on energy will clip the investment mandate of state-run Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and this shall likewise get rid of all of its existing subsidiaries.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

The state-run company will also be renamed, according to Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian, with him telling reporters in jest that the transformed corporate vehicle will be called Philippine Oil and Gas Exploration Co. (POGE Co.) – although he later on seriously qualified that they are still pondering on a stately corporate name.

“We want to sharpen its mandate to purely oil and gas exploration. We will file it as a law, but this is a work in progress,” he said.

The lawmaker admitted that they have yet to discuss this proposal with PNOC, but the general aim is to give it a specific mandate – which is in the upstream petroleum industry.

He noted there had been projects engaged in by the company and its subsidiaries that just resulted in wastage of financial resources – like jatropha plantation in the past wherein it spent P2.4 billion but not a single plant or drop of biodiesel had been produced from it.

Under the propounded law, the plan is to just have one corporate entity as a successor-firm for PNOC – and the existing subsidiaries will all be scrapped.

Its charter or the law that will create the new corporate entity will also specify its mandate to be confined to the upstream oil and gas sector – and nothing more on real estate development, renewables, diesel importation and trading or any other investment prospects.

“This is a model we saw in Japan. So PNOC can’t engage anymore in trading, no more PNOC Renewables Corporation, no more property development, no more Euro-II diesel importation – it will just do oil and gas,” he said.

On the budgeting process for the proposed new state-owned corporation, Gatchalian said “we will tighten the power of Congress over this new entity that we’re thinking of,” with him emphasizing that the legislative body will make the company accountable on its use of financial resources for projects.

“We will refocus it (new PNOC) to purely upstream oil and gas so that we will be securing our energy needs, because if it will just be planting jatropha, that’s waste of money. But if you focus on discoveries or exploration, then PNOC will have a clearer direction,” he stressed.