Isabela, Philippines: The Department of Energy (DOE) has confirmed that Philippine National Oil Company–Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC), a government-owned entity, has discovered natural gas deposits here not far from a field that used to supply fuel for the gas-fired power plant in the province.

The find fans hopes that the country could push for more such exploration projects in its bid to achieve energy independence.

Initial results from the Mangosteen-1 well, in Cagayan Basin in Santiago City, Isabela, show promising quantities of natural gas that can be harvested from the well.

The state-owned corporation will now determine the commercial viability of the said find.

The discovery was found in an area covered by Service Contract 737, an onshore block located in the southern part of the Cagayan Basin, covers an area of 360 square kilometer, and is fully owned and operated by state-run PNOC-EC.

Gemiliano Lopez Jr, PNOC-EC chairman, told the Philippine media that the gas well, explored through the "Mangosteen" project under SC 737, may perhaps be the next major natural gas supply in the country next to Malampaya field.

The official said the good news was relayed to President Benigno Aquino III. “We found natural gas within the president’s term, one that would complement the production of the Malampaya offshore project in Palawan and allow us to supply additional cheap and clean energy to our people.”

“We are extremely confident of finding the country’s next gas field that can provide an additional 100 megawatts of energy using clean natural gas,” Lopez Jr. said.

Source: PNOC-EC website

The company is expected to confirm the volume of gas following further tests.

“PNOC-EC has informed the DOE of its discovery of natural gas in its Santiago City Service Contract last July 2, 2015,” Director Patrick T. Aquino from the Office of the Secretary at DOE told the local media.

“PNOC-EC is in the process of confirming the volume and commercial viability of pursuing the project,” the Director at Energy Department said.

Asked if the said discovery will compliment the Malampaya offshore gas well and when can the country fully benefit from the gas find, he said “until we determine the volume, it is too early to state the potential benefits.”

Director Aquino was answering in behalf of DOE Officer-in-Charge Zenaida Y. Monsada.

Undersecretary Monsada will be heading the department as OIC until the end of current administration after Secretary Jericho Petilla’s resignation took effect Friday, July 3.

PNOC-EC said “the San Antonio gas field, which was in production from 1994 to 2008 and was supplying the fuel requirement of the 3 MW San Antonio Power Plant, is within said block.”

“Although modest in size, the 3 MW power plant was the first gas-powered plant in the Philippines and signalled the birth of the natural gas industry in the country,” PNOC-EC added.