SMC keen on buying Shell's stake in Malampaya

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San Miguel President and COO Ramon Ang (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Tycoon Ramon Ang is looking to join the Malampaya consortium by buying Shell Philippines' stake in the natural gas project, San Miguel Corporation said Friday.

"We confirm that the company is interested in acquiring the 45-percent stake of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. in the Malampaya gas-to-power project," SMC said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange in response to a newspaper article quoting Ang.

The billionaire controls both SMC and Petron Corporation, which runs the biggest oil refinery in the country. Petron has also branched out to supply fuel in Malaysia.

Earlier this week, Shell announced that it is scouting for a buyer to take its position as operator of the Malampaya project as it looks to preserve its financial footing in the Philippines.

The Malampaya facility is located off the coast of Palawan and is in the West Philippine Sea, an area believed to be rich in oil deposits. Shell started commercial oil exploration and extraction efforts in 2001, with a second rig platform opened in 2015.

Businessman Dennis Uy, who owns retail chain Phoenix Petroleum, already owns a 45 percent stake in Malampaya after buying out the shares of Chevron, Shell's original partner.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said that the Malampaya reservoir is only good until 2027, while the contract with the Department of Energy ends in 2024.

The Malampaya consortium has been requesting for a 15-year contract extension since 2008. Businessman Manny Pangilinan, who runs power distributor Meralco, proposed to develop Malampaya even after it runs dry. This was also rejected by regulators last year.

READ: Dennis Uy, MVP eyeing oil exploration deals in West Philippine Sea