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ExxonMobil: oil well in Sulu Sea will take 3 months to explore

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Philippines B.V. would complete the drilling of its third exploration well in the South Sulu Sea next August, a company official said Sunday. Ian Fisher, ExxonMobil managing director, told reporters that drilling the third exploration would take 60 to 90 days. “Somewhere there [August] but depends on how things go. We're very deliberate in how we approach drilling our wells. We don't take any chances, any risks, we're not rushing for speed," Fisher said. ExxonMobil's service contract 56 includes the gas-rich Sandakan Basin, covering 8,200 square kilometers, located about 900 kilometers southwest of Manila and 200 kilometers northwest of Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi province. ExxonMobil started drilling the well this month, using the drill rig West Aquarius, the same that was used to drill the first two wells. “ExxonMobil has safely drilled two exploration wells in the South Sulu sea. Drilling the third exploration well is part of the department’s program to continue to encourage the development of the energy sector in the Philippines to support economic growth," Energy Secretary Jose Ibazeta said in a statement on Friday. The semi-submersible West Aquarius "spudded the Palendag-1 well last June 4, but it plugged and abandoned the well "after encountering drilling difficulties," the Energy Department said. ExxonMobil had since moved the West Aquarius to a new location, called Palendag-1A, adjacent to Palendag-1. The first well – Dabakan-1 – was drilled from October to December last year, Banduria-1 the second well was completed last February. Both wells showed signs of gas, the company said. Data from Dabakan-1 and Banduria-1are currently being analyzed, according to Ibazeta. “You have to analyze a lot of data, assess a lot of factors and then see if we can make it a commercial operation, but it takes many years. Even if you decide to be commercial, it takes many years to actually develop something like that before the first production," Fisher said. ExxonMobil holds a 50 percent stake in SC 56, while Mitra Energy (Philippines) Ltd. holds 25 percent, and BHP Billiton (International Exploration Pty Ltd.) also holds 25 percent. —VS, GMANews.TV