ExxonMobil to step up exploratory work in the Philippines

ExxonMobil plans to undertake exploratory operations in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines and could begin drilling exploratory wells in a year's time, according to a senior official.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 13 -- ExxonMobil Corp. plans to undertake exploratory operations in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines and, based on the outcome of current seismic studies, could begin drilling exploratory wells in a year's time, according to a senior official.

ExxonMobil Exploration Co. Vice-President Stephen Greenlee, after meeting with the Philippine's President Gloria Arroyo and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, said the US major is currently evaluating seismic data taken from the project area.

If the data are encouraging, Greenlee said, the company plans to drill exploration wells starting mid-2009 at a cost of around $100 million.

ExxonMobil E&P Philippines BV, meanwhile, said Manila has approved the company's acquisition of a 50% operating interest in Block SC 56 in the deepwater Sandakan basin.

ExxonMobil acquired the interest from Mitra Energy, which holds the remaining 50% interest in the block. The partners completed a 2D-seismic survey in 2006 and a 3D seismic program in 2007.

Elsewhere in the Sulu Sea, Australian independent Tap Oil plans to begin exploration drilling in midyear on its Service Contract 41 off the southern Philippines.

Tap acquired 750 sq km of 3D seismic over the offshore block last year, and is eyeing reserves of 50-150 million bbl of oil. Tap holds a 50% stake in the block, while Salamander has 35%, while seven Philippine firms hold the remaining 15%.

Recently, the Philippines government announced that development of the Galoc oil field in Palawan has been completed and will start operation by June 16.

It followed a March announcement by Galoc Production Co. which pronounced the Galoc-3 development well ready to connect to the field's floating production, storage, and offloading vessel after it flow-tested at a constrained, stabilized 5,200 b/d of oil (OGJ Online, Mar. 10, 2008).

The Philippines government anticipates that Galoc will have a production rate of 20,000-30,000 b/d or about 10% of current domestic demand.

Energy Sec. Reyes said the "high quality" Galoc oil is light, nonwaxy, and has medium content of sulfur. "It is premium oil and can be refined in refineries here," Reyes said.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

More in Exploration & Development