July 23, 2008

ExxonMobil Takes Over Mitra’s Stake in Oil Block

By Kamarul Yunus

EXXONMOBIL Corp is taking over the 50 per cent stake in an oil block in the Philippines' Sulu Sea, previously held by Malaysia's Mitra Energy.

Exxon is buying the stake in the block, known as Service Contract 56 (SC 56) for an undisclosed price, a government official said.

A government official with the Philippines' Department of Energy said the US company has just bought a huge three dimensional (3D) seismic survey over SC 56.

It is due to start drilling a well next year.

Originally, Mitra was awarded the Camago-Malampaya field, but the contract was withdrawn as the Philippines government said it was not given according to procedure.

"Mitra's development of the Malampaya oil leg was cancelled because it (SC 56 block) was not bidded out. Mitra's SC 56 was awarded on August 5 2005," the official told Business Times.

The Philippines National Oil Corp (PNOC) had clarified that the company has not signed an agreement with Mitra to look for oil in the Camago-Malampaya field off western Palawan.

Subsequently, fresh bids were invited late last year.

Mitra, which has exploration projects in the Philippines and Indonesia, had initially estimated that the Malampaya field may yield a total of 41 million barrels of oil over four years.

The total project cost of the Camago-Malampaya field is expected to be about US$684 million (RM2.22 billion).

Mitra and PNOC are already partners in the Calamian oil exploration project in the Philippines.

Mitra's investors comprise international financial institutions and individuals including from the UK.

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