PXP Energy Corp. has set its eyes on exploring an oil block within the disputed West Philippine Sea that is estimated to bear as much as 3 trillion cubic feet of gas resources.

Led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, the listed gas and oil firm operates the area through Forum (GSEC 101) Ltd., a unit of Forum Energy Ltd., which in turn is one of its subsidiaries.

The block is located within the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Service Contract (SC) 37 in Recto Bank. Exploration activities in the area are currently suspended upon declaration of a force majeure.

Once the moratorium in site activities within the area is lifted, the company will immediately conduct a 2,600-square-kilometer (sq km) 3D-seismic survey “to further evaluate the [oil] prospect which could eventually lead to the drilling of an exploratory well,” according to PXP Energy President and Director Daniel P. Carlos during the company’s stockholders’ meeting, Wednesday.

The future exploration site is located 70 km northeast of the Sampaguita gas field.

Last year, the company crafted a drilling program for the 8,800-sq-km Sampaguita gas field in west Palawan to determine possible oil wells. “These wells will be drilled once we get the permission from the government to resume exploration activities on the block,” Mr. Carlos said.

Meanwhile, a block in the Galoc oil field under SC 14 C-1 in northwest Palawan, which the company holds a minority stake via Forum Energy Philippines Corp., is set to suspend operations starting Sept. 24. Continued operations in the block have become “unviable” with the slump in oil prices since March, it said.

“We remain optimistic though that the field will be operational again [in] the near future once the price of crude rebounds to profitable levels,” Mr. Carlos commented.

In the first three months of 2020, PXP Energy shed P40.4 million, compared with the P7 million it earned in the same months in 2019, as oil revenues dropped with the decline in output of its wells.

Oil revenues plunged by 79% to P6.1 million in the first quarter from P29.7 million in the same period a year ago. The company attributed the drop to the 38% cut in production and 60% decrease in crude oil price in the Galoc field.

Shares in PXP Energy fell by 7.29% to close at P5.72 apiece on Wednesday. — Adam J. Ang