By Myrna Velasco
A 30-day suspension has been slapped by the board of directors of state-run Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) against its own company president and chief executive officer (CEO) Pedro A. Aquino over a reported investment deal supposedly committed with Russian firm Rosnest Oil Company.
The one-month suspension was meted out after the company board established that a memorandum of agreement (MOA) had been sealed with the Russian firm without its CEO seeking the board permission or a go-signal from Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi.
A source privy to the board order said Aquino’s suspension shall be enforced until next month. Cusi is the chairman of the PNOC-EC board of directors. The members of the board are Aquino, Carlo Magno D. Aldevera, Atty Farah Cañezal-Lumbatan, Atty Alejandro Cobol. Retired General Oscar H. Rabena, Johnny L. Tuason, Karl Ignatius P. Young and Avelino M. Tayag.
Aquino was not in the Senate budget hearing of the Department of Energy (DOE) Thursday, a proceeding that should have also tackled the budget of PNOC) and its subsidiaries, including PNOC-EC.
The budget of all DOE- attached agencies had already secured the approval of the Senate’s finance sub-committee, but PNOC’s budget deliberations were suspended due to Aquino’s absence as well as that of PNOC-Renewables Corporation (PNOC-RC) President and CEO John J. Arenas.
Aquino was reportedly suspended for signing a trilateral agreement with Rosneft and Pionaire Finance Limited without first securing the approval of the board.
The deal, as could be culled from a PNOC-EC report, was signed in St Petersburg, Russia during a recent International Economic Forum.
If the investment tie-up is finalized, the scale of investments could reportedly go as high as 10 billion euros.
In the document, it was stated that the agreement between PNOC-EC and Rosneft “lays the basis for the development of multilateral cooperation in oil and products trading as well as for joint participation in oil refining projects.”
It was noted in particular that Rosneft and PNOC-EC also stipulated their “intention to sign a strategic long-term contract in the near future for delivery of crude oil to the Philippine company.”
Rosneft is an integrated energy company headquartered in Moscow involved in the exploration of oil and gas resources, as well as in refining, trading and marketing of oil products.