Ongpin Increases Stake In Forum

Atok Big Wedge Co., Inc., a firm controlled by Roberto V. Ongpin, has increased its stake in Forum Energy Plc to 9.65 million ordinary shares or 27.14 percent of FEP's outstanding capital.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the firm said its wholly-owned unit Tidemark Holdings Limited has acquired one million ordinary shares of Forum Energy for an undisclosed amount.

Atok acquired Tidemark, a Hong Kong company which owned 8.65 million FEP shares or 25.92 percent of Forum Energy, in October last year.

Forum Energy is a United Kingdom company whose shares are traded and listed in the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

It is a gas & oil exploration and production company with a portfolio of projects in the Philippines. It has 70 percent of the equity in Service Contract No. 72 which is estimated to contain more oil and gas than the Malampaya field.

The Sampaguita offshore gas discovery is situated in SC 72. The block is located off the North West coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines.

SC 72 is a joint venture between Forum Energy and Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc. Philex Petroleum has a 64.45 percent direct and indirect interest in Forum Energy which was acquired before Ongpin sold his stake in PPC parent company Philex Mining Corporation.

PPC will eventually open up SC 72 to foreign partners who will provide technical expertise as well as financial muscle to bring it to commercial operations. PPC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said Philex Mining will initially be bankrolling exploration activities.

Pangilinan said $80 million is initially needed for further exploration work for SC 72 and Philex will be providing an initial $20 million for the project. Its total share of the cost will amount to about $36 million.

PPC president Carlo Pablo said they have six more years to decide whether there are enough recoverable gas reserves in the field to bring it to commercial production although they are hoping it will be the next Malampaya.

He added that it will take about five more years to actually develop the facilities that will allow them to start commercial production and this will cost about $5 billion or more.

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