Philippine Energy Bidding Round Attracts Over 20 Groups

MANILA, May 31, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

More than 20 local and international energy groups have expressed interest in exploring and developing oil, coal and geothermal prospects offered by the Philippines in its latest energy bidding round, the Department of Energy said Thursday.

The Philippines opened for bidding in December for nine oil and gas prospects, three geothermal sites and 14 areas for coal exploration and development. The bidding round closed Wednesday.

"We are very pleased that a number of local and international upstream companies have expressed keen interest in participating in the exploration and development of the country's coal, geothermal and petroleum resources," said Energy Undersecretary Guillermo Balce in a statement.

Proposals submitted by the prospective developers will be reviewed by the DOE and contracts will be awarded by the end of the year, he said, without naming the bidders.

Sources within the DOE said the oil and gas prospects drew the most interest, with all but three of the nine areas attracting multiple exploration and development proposals.

The geothermal sites each attracted one proposal, while only four of the 14 coal sites drew interest, sources said.

Balce said exploration and development of an oil and gas prospect could easily cost $40 million over seven years, while a geothermal field could require PHP20 million ($433,000) a year. Each block for the coal site will need PHP5 million to initially explore and develop, he added.

The oil and gas prospects are in shallow and deep waters in various parts of the country, whose largest oil resource is Camago-Malampaya natural gas field with estimated reserves of over 2.4 trillion cubic feet.

Previous oil discoveries in the Philippines have been small.

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