Malampaya gas field (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is seeking an amendment to the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) charter so it can focus on oil and gas explorations that will end the country’s dependence on imports.

In filing Senate Bill No. 380, Gatchalian said the PNOC will establish a national policy and framework exclusively for petroleum explorations and development

The bill is aimed at restructuring the PNOC by abolishing existing subsidiaries and directing away from non-exploration activities

It will merge all subsidiaries and PNOC companies for a more coherent and targeted direction and improved operational efficiency.

The PNOC-Exploration Corporation has not produced a single drop of oil and gas apart from the Malampaya gas field while the PNOC-Renewables Corporation has been suffering from financial losses for almost 10 years, Gatchalian said.

Mahalaga ang papel ng gobyerno sa pagpapalawig ng petroleum exploration at development sa bansa. Dapat nating mapagtibay ang mandato ng PNOC para palakasin ang industriya lalo na’t nakasalalay ang suplay at presyo sa inaangkat nating langis (The government has an important role in petroleum exploration. PNOC’s mandate must be strengthened to ensure smooth oil supply and establish prices in oil importation),” Gatchalian said in a news release on Friday.

According to Gatchalian, the PNOC must be empowered to invest in petroleum operation projects, both here and abroad, and should be allowed to retain 50 percent of its net earnings for local petroleum exploration and development.

Since PNOC was created in 1973, Gatchalian lamented that it has engaged in various activities far from its original mandate, which is to provide an adequate and stable supply of petroleum products to meet the domestic requirement and to promote the exploration and development of local petroleum sources.

Instead, the company organized eight subsidiaries whose involvement ranges from developing geothermal resources to promoting energy efficiency programs. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)