PANGILINAN-LED PXP Energy Corp. said Monday that discussions with China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) continue, but stressed that any commercial deals will mainly depend on whatever the two governments agree on.
“The discussions at both government levels between China and Philippine governments continue to be ongoing and I cannot give you any precision as to when that can conclude,” PXP Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said.
“Also,” he added, “our discussions with CNOOC continue, but it’s rather on and off. I think that a great deal of commercial discussions is driven by the government discussions. There are points in the commercial agreements that can’t be really talked about until there is a broad agreement on what you call executive agreements between the two governments.”
PXP holds a 78.98-percent operating interest in Service Contract (SC) 72 or the contract to explore Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea through London-listed Forum Energy Plc. It was supposed to partner with CNOOC, one of the largest national oil companies owned by the People’s Republic of China, but the Department of Energy (DOE) earlier imposed a moratorium on exploration activities.
Moreover, Pangilinan doubts that government discussions on this matter would prosper at a time when national elections are just a few months away.
“We have entered into the election period, maybe not officially, but we’re practically there. I think we acquire greater intensity as we enter 2022 and, unless agreements are reached saying within the year or thereabouts, I think the chances of proceeding SC 72 are slim that moment we enter 2022, because it’s simply just the election, and I guess people’s attention will be focused on the election period and who the next president is going to be.”
It being what he called “a threshold situation,” Pangilinan continued, “I guess the short answer is really beyond our hands and I really don’t know whether something could be achieved would be concluded within this year.”
Pangilinan’s group is already prepared to drill exploratory wells next year.