THE chairman of the Senate committee on energy is looking at a law that will restructure the state-led Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) by abolishing its existing subsidiaries and directing its focus away from non-exploration activities.

“We’re working on restructuring ’yung PNOC and to sharpen its mandate to purely oil and gas exploration,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the committee, told reporters on Wednesday after a Senate hearing on a separate energy issue.

He said the restructuring will cover the parent company, an agency attached to the Department of Energy (DoE) and chaired by the Energy secretary.

“PNOC everything. We’re working on that. This is a model we saw in Japan.

Wala na’ng trading, wala na’ng RC (PNOC Renewables Corp.), wala na’ng Jatropha, wala na’ng property. Just oil and gas ka lang (No more trading, no more PNOC Renewables Corp., no more Jatropha, no more property development]. Just oil and gas exploration),” Mr. Gatchalian said.

He cited the PNOC’s unsuccessful push to propagate Jatropha in order to produce biofuel, at a cost of P2.4 billion. He also mentioned the now-abandoned plan by the PNOC Exploration Co. to import Euro 2 fuel, a cheaper but dirtier fuel to replace Euro 4, to soften the impact of rising fuel prices.

“Let’s just concentrate on oil and gas discovery kasi ’yun naman ang mandato niyamaghanap, upstream (because that is its mandate — to discover fuel upstream),” Mr. Gatchalian said.

Asked whether a provision in PNOC’s mandate that requires congressional approval for its capital expenditure, he said the spending safeguard will remain.

“We will retain. We will tighten the power of Congress over this new entity that we’re thinking. But the bottomline here is we will refocus it to purely upstream oil and gas so that we will be secure in our energy needs,” he said.

Mr. Gatchalian said the country still has service contracts that have yet to be awarded. He said he would file the bill in the next Congress. He said the move has not yet been discussed with PNOC officials.

“This is something that we learned when we visited Japan. We’ll file it as a law,” he said.

Sought for comment, Energy Undersecretary William Felix B. Fuentebella said he has yet to see the details of the proposed restructuring.

Tingnan natin. Hindi ko pa nakikita ’yung proposal (We’ll see. I haven’t seen the proposal). If it will make it more efficient, we’ll see,” he said. — Victor V. Saulon