BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim, Army’s Western Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and Energy World Group Executive Director Graham Stewart Elliot [facing back camera] in a Cotabato City meeting Friday on oil exploration proposal (photo via Ali Macabalang/MANILA BULLETIN)

Energy World Group expresses interest in exploring natural gas in Bangsamoro

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao– A proposal presented lately by Energy World Group (EWG) Executive Director Graham Stewart Elliot to BARMM Chief Minister Al Haj Ahod Ebrahim expressed his company’s interest in natural gas and oil exploration in the 220, 000-hectares Liguasan Marsh during a meeting with Ebrahim in his office in Cotabato City on Friday, August 17.

The Liguasan Delta lies on the border of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato. But the largest portion of the marsh is located in Maguindanao, a component province of BARMM. 

“Actually, many groups have one after another expressed interest in exploring and developing energy sources in our region in a fashion elating us,” Abdullah Cusain, Deputy Executive Secretary at BARMM Chief Ebrahim’s office, told Manila Bulletin over the phone on Saturday.

Cusain said officials or representatives of different investment groups have sounded off CM Ebrahim and other BARMM officials on their proposals.

Other representatives of companies have also signified interest in exploring oil in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Former Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu had presented video footage showing samples of natural gas being used for “unlimited” cooking by hundreds of residents in the delta, said a report by Manila Bulletin on August 18.

President Duterte urged BARMM officials several time to fully harness the potentials of the marsh. “That’s yours, nobody with meddle with you,” Duterte said in Cebuano dialect.

 “We are evaluating proposals received from influx of investment groups to ensure compliance to the letter and intent of laws,” Cusain told the Manila Bulletin during the phone interview.

Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who accompanied Elliot to the meeting, said EWG is a player in the energy industry in Asia focused on delivering clear energy.

Sobejana said Elliot conveyed his intention to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the BARMM leadership for an exploration project in Sulu.

He viewed the project as a potential opportunity “to create more employment opportunities for residents and former terrorists in Mindanao,” particularly in Sulu where the outlawed Abu Sayyaf group maintains enclaves. (Source: Manila Bulletin)