PNOC-EC studies Liguasan Marsh’s gas deposits

Published January 25, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

State run Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) is targeting to re-assess the potential of Liguasan Marsh for prospective commercial gas discovery that may then be re-aligned as among the replacement-finds for Malampaya.

 In the Philippine Energy Transition forum jointly convened by the Philippine Energy Independence Council (PEIC) and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), PNOC-EC President and CEO Rozzano D. Briguez indicated that Liguasan Marsh, which is straddling the southern part of the Mindanao River basin, will be among the areas they will focus on in terms of enhanced data gathering and study to evaluate its gas deposits’ prospectivity.

PNOC-EC President and CEO Rozzano D. Briguez (Photo credit:

The Liguasan Marsh is a petroleum exploration block within the enclaves of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), hence, this is an investment activity that shall be jointly decided by the national government and the Bangsamoro authority, as prescribed under the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

 Apart from Liguasan Marsh, Briguez noted their company will also be fortifying seismic data build-up in at least 16 sedimentary basins that the state-run firm will be eyeing for oil and gas exploration and eventual drilling activities.

He opined that ‘low prospectivity in the country’s petroleum blocks had been raised as a concern, but in his view, “it’s not because we don’t have rich energy resources in the Philippines but because we lack the necessary studies of our sedimentary basins and we lack the actual explorations — and probably that’s why we don’t have that much attention given us by the investors.”

In whipping up the interest of deep-pocketed investors to inject capital into the upstream petroleum sector, he noted a new fundamental starting point for the country is “to strengthen the study of the sedimentary basins,” and on PNOC-EC’s part, it will be undertaking that in at least 16 prospect areas all over the country – some of which are in the West Philippine Sea where oil exploration moratorium had already been lifted by President Duterte in October last year.

The PNOC-EC chief executive admitted that he is agonizing over the fact that the performance of the Philippines in petroleum exploration had been extremely lethargic with just one drilling a year – and the last one for the company was in 2015. Conversely, its Malaysian counterpart drilled more than 150 wells in just a decade-stretch that led to major discoveries seven times the size of Malampaya.

“I have always been using the examples of Malaysia — if we compare ourselves to Malaysia, where we have on the average in 44 years – we only have less than one drilling a year – and our last one was in 2015. For the past 12 yeas, Malaysia had 153 and with that 153, it had already discovered an equivalent of seven Malampayas,” Briguez narrated.

He further stated “it’s really about making our sedimentary basins attractive. And how do we do that? We do that by really concentrating on the geophysical and geological studies that we have.”

Briguez referenced on a previous program propelled by the Department of Energy (DOE), wherein the country was able to attract investments because the government has been extending utmost support to investors on seismic data access and also ensuring that these are viable and strategic data for their assessment and consideration so they could be enticed to pump in capital.

“For PNOC-EC, we are strengthening our link-up with UP (University of the Philippines) and the DOE, so we can have those data available for investors… so our concentration right now is to link up with DOE on how those data are examined,” he stressed.

Briguez expounded “our data before are already outdated and our data before concentrated on oil, and probably with new technologies that we have, when we offer these back to the proponents for them to study, probably these data would be worth a second look.”

 The PNOC-EC chief executive emphasized “a good number of our Western corridor has really good potential – very good potential for oil and gas, so that’s where we are right now and that’s where we are concentrating here at PNOC-EC.”