THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) has extended the deadline for interested entities to submit their bids to secure service contracts for the 14 areas in the Philippines offered by the government for oil and gas exploration.

A notice posted on the department’s Web site said the 180-day application period for the pre-determined areas (PDAs) under the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP) had been moved to Aug. 19 from May 21, 2019.

It said the reason for the extension is “in order to provide additional time for applicants and other interested parties to submit their complete application documents.”

Ahead of the extension, DoE officials had been saying that several companies had expressed interest in submitting their application.

They also said other entities were keen on nominating areas outside the 14 PDAs, including offshore areas in the South China Sea where the Philippines has a standing territorial dispute with China.

DoE Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos, who attended local and international road shows to drum up interest in PCECP, did not immediately respond when asked whether the department had received applications for the pre-determined areas or whether areas outside of the identified 14 had been nominated for exploration.

PCECP is the DoE’s initiative to spur exploration by offering areas in the country with potential oil and gas reserves. It is a revised, transparent petroleum service contract awarding mechanism that allows investors to bid for exploration projects through a competitive selection process or by nomination.

These areas are composed of onshore and offshore sites located in the Cagayan Basin (one area), Eastern Palawan (three areas), Sulu (three areas), Agusan-Davao (two areas), Cotabato (one area) and in Western Luzon (four areas).

The application period is 180 days from the launch in November last year. None of the areas is within the waters being contested by China and the Philippines.

Under the PCECP, investors are also given a chance to develop locations other than those on the PDA list by nominating their areas of interest, subject to DoE approval.

Potential applicants may nominate and publish these areas at any time of the year. Their application will be subjected to a 60-day challenge period. — VVS