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ExxonMobil out of South Sulu Sea oil exploration, cites unfavorable yield

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Philippines B.V. said Thursday it is withdrawing from offshore service contract 56 in the South Sulu Sea, a move the Department of Energy noted is a normal option for an oil exploration company. "ExxonMobil drilled… four wells to test a new exploration play concept. While it encountered gas in three of the four wells drilled, non-commercial quantities of gas were found and ExxonMobil will withdraw from SC 56 and resign as the operator," the company said in a statement. The four wells cost ExxonMobil and its partners $400 million, the company said. The Energy Department earlier said SC 56 has an estimated 750 million of oil equivalent. But ExxonMobil declined to reveal the results from its exploration wells. ExxonMobil, which operates and holds a 50 percent majority stake in SC 56, said it "will assign its interest in SC 56 to its co-venturers." Its partners in the service contract include Mitra Energy (Philippines) Ltd. and BHP Billiton (International Exploration Pty. Ltd.), each of which owns 25 percent in the oil exploration venture. "That is normal," said Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. “Oil and gas exploration is hit and miss which is why we want to offer more areas for better chances of success." The Energy chief noted there is "no information" on whether or not Mitra and BHP Billiton will continue developing SC 56. The service contract covers 8,200 square kilometers including the gas-rich Sandakan Basin. ExxonMobil may still bid in the ongoing round for oil and gas exploration, Almendras said. "That's really how exploration is, which is why the yields have to be good to recover the misses," the energy chief said. — VS, GMA News