Philippines Launches 2006 Energy Contracting Round

MANILA, Dec 22, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

The Deparment of Energy launched the fourth annual Philippine Energy Contracting Round Friday, under which local and international energy companies can bid to explore for oil, gas, coal and goethermal resources in the country.

The government is hoping to help boost foreign investment in the country's energy sector through contracting efforts.

The energy department is offering nine oil and gas areas totaling 71,357 square kilometers, 14 coal prospects with combined estimated reserves of 421 million metric tons, and geothermal resources equivalent to about 100 megawatts of electricity.

"We are intensifying our search for new energy resources to meet new energy demand. Through the energy contracting round, we will be selecting applicants who can demonstrate a good understanding of the resource potential, and who will carry out the best work program that will effectively map and develop these," Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said in a statement.

The nine oil and gas areas being offered are located offshore in Palawan province and Mindoro province, among others.

During last year's contracting round, four oil and gas areas were offered and awarded to various groups.

Meanwhile, the energy department has identified 14 areas for coal exploration and development, with estimated reserves of 421 million metric tons, located in the provinces of Quezon, Negros Occidential, Cebu, Surigao, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Zamboanga.

In 2005, seven coal contracts were offered but there were no takers, data showed.

"While coal demand is increasing, the majority of our coal supply is still imported," Lotilla said, adding that with the country's total coal reserves estimated at 2.36 billion metric tons, the government is hoping to see increased exploration in this area.

Meanwhile, the energy department offered three areas for geothermal exploration and development, with combined potential power generation of about 100 megawatts, located in the provinces of Batangas, Biliran and Compostela Valley.

The Philippines is the world's second-largest geothermal power producer after the U.S. "In pursuit of energy independence amidst soaring international oil prices and increasing demand, we invite upstream companies, local and foreign, to participate in the Philippine Energy Contracting Round 2006 and to seize the best possible investment opportunities available in the energy sector," Lotilla said.

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