Solon says Sampaguita gas drilling will assert PH rights over West Philippine Sea

Published December 5, 2021, 4:40 PM

by Melvin Sarangay

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, the chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee, said that the slated deep-water drilling in the Sampaguita gas discovery is expected to forcefully assert the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

“We are counting on Forum Energy Ltd.’s offshore drilling in Sampaguita to demonstrate that the Philippines is determined to enforce its undivided rights over Recto Bank’s vast petroleum resources,” Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday, Dec. 6.

“In fact, this early, we want Forum to contract the drillship for Sampaguita,” he said.

“We have very high hopes that the appraisal wells that will be drilled into Sampaguita’s world-class hydrocarbon deposits will successfully flow gas at rates deemed economically viable, just like the producing Malampaya field,” added Pimentel, who was responding to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey which showed that eight of 10 Filipinos want the next president to champion the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea.

The poll showed that 82 percent of Filipinos believe that the next administration must assert the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that gives the Philippines sole rights over its exclusive economic zone and dispel China’s territorial claims.

The lawmaker also stressed that under the law, “all of the government’s private petroleum service contractors, including Forum, are required to exert maximum efforts to discover and produce gas and/or oil as soon as possible.”

“We need Sampaguita developed right away to guarantee the country’s long-term energy security, considering that Malampaya will run out of gas by 2027,” Pimentel said.

The government has given Forum an Oct. 16, 2022 deadline to drill its two commitment wells in Sampaguita, which is estimated to deliver up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 115 million barrels of oil.

Forum has a 70 percent operating stake in Service Contract 72, including the Sampaguita gas find in the Recto Bank.

PXP Energy Corp., a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., has ownership of Forum. Both PXP and Metro Pacific are Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) public trading entities.

According to London-based Edison Investment Research Ltd., Forum is expected to spend up to $3-billion (P150-billion) to develop Sampaguita.