DOE to halve time for exploration permit approvals means BUSINESS

MANILA – The Department of Energy plans to halve the amount of time required to secure permits for oil and gas exploration.

Undersecretary Jose M. Layug Jr. said the agency is aiming to reduce the cycle time for securing the 200 permits within the year.

"I think in most countries isa lang yung kanilang kinakausap - the central government. Here kasi we respect the autonomy of local government units, so it’s not only the national government agencies," he said.

The 200 permits needed by oil and gas companies take at least a year to obtain and involves securing the consent of various interest parties, such as indigenous people, LGUs, regulators, local communities and various government agencies.

To bring down the large number of permits oil companies need to secure, Layug said the DOE is in talks with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which already committed to streamline its procedures.

"Hinde lang DENR, the Department of Justice issued a circular [on] securing permits for foreign contractors. What’s good here is before you allow foreigners to come here maga-apply muna visa. They come here wala pa sila working visa so they wait. Now under the DOJ circular, bago pa sila pumunta pwede na mag-apply dun sa consulate where they are," Layug said.

Cutting red tape is part of Executive Order No. 60, which President Benigno Aquino III issued in 2011, creating an inter-agency task force headed by the DOE to streamline procedures for petroleum firms in the country.

"We are not as prospective as our neighbors. That’s why you see more oil and gas exploration in our neighbors, and the only way we can entice them considering the challenges of our geography is to entice them through incentives," Layug said.

The Philippines has only 27 existing oil and gas service contracts, of which only two are producing sites.