Unocol May Become Partner In Record Phillipine Gas Find

Unocal has said that it may join a gas exploration venture off the Philippine coast after surveys showed that reserves may equal the nation's biggest find, the state owned oil exploration company said.

The US explorer, which has a forty three percent of its oil and gas reserves in Asia, may become a partner to develop fields off Mindoro island that may have as much as two and a half trillion cubic feet of gas. That would equal reserves further east at the $2.5 billion Malampaya venture, the nation's biggest natural gas find.

“The geophysical survey has been done and there's plenty of potential there,” Rufino Bomasang, the chief executive of Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corp. said in an interview. “Unocal is interested in becoming a partner but we are also looking for other partners.”

The Philippines, unlike its neighbours such as Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, does not produce enough gas for exports. The state controlled explorer is stepping up its search for gas to meet demand from power plants and industrial users. Philippine National owns ten percent of Malampaya, which is being developed with the Royal Dutch Shell Group and ChevronTexaco.

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