Covid-19 delays PHL-China talks on oil, gas deal

Covid-19 delays PHL-China talks on oil, gas deal

ENERGY Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the Philippines and China continue to discuss joint exploration for an oil and gas deal but nothing definite has been arranged yet.

“Supposedly, the second meeting para matapos ang framework was last February pero nagka Covid-19 kaya hindi nagkaroon ng meeting with the committee [Supposedly, the second meeting to complete the framework was set last February, but the committee meeting was cancelled by Covid-19]. But we continue to discuss this with China, but only on director level, [there are no] official meetings. [There’s no operational framework [yet],” said Cusi during a virtual press conference.

There was a meeting between the Philippine and Chinese officials in December last year, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between President Duterte and the Chinese president in November 2018.

Cusi said the Philippines has a memorandum of understanding “with China on how to go on a possible joint exploration so that we can exploit and make use of whatever resources [are] available in the area for the use of our the country. We are still working on that, still working on how we can proceed with the joint exploration.”

He added that a more in-depth discussion between the two countries will likely happen soon.

Also, the DOE earlier received bid nominations for oil and gas exploration areas in waters disputed with China.

The nomination of an area for exploration is one of the two ways by which investors can participate in the DOE’s Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCEP). The nominated areas are subject for counter challenge by other prospective bidders.

The other option is choosing an area from the 14 Pre-Determined Areas (PDAs) offered by the DOE. “In our PCEP, we have nominated and predetermined areas. We have no problem with the predetermined areas because that’s within the Philippine exclusivity. We will proceed with that,” Cusi said, in a mix of English and Filipino.

He is aware, though, that investors may take a step back in pursuing exploration of oil and gas reserves in the Philippines due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are foreseeing that the investments might be held back by the investors because of Covid.  They will be rethinking whether it is worthwhile pursuing the project considering the problem in oil supply issue, whether the oil price will be able to recover….Let’s be realistic, there will be a tightening of credit, there will be a delay. Some investors are withholding their capital expenditure,” said Cusi.

So far,  Cusi said his office has yet to receive feedback from investors who earlier signified to participate in the PCEP.— Source: Lenie Lectura / businessmirror.com.ph

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