Atok-Big Wedge Co., the mining and oil unit of the group of former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, will focus its resources on oil and gas exploration instead of mining and is particularly upbeat on its new investment in the Sampaguita offshore gas discovery.

The Sampaguita field covered by Service Contract No. 72 is off the northwest coast of Palawan along the Recto Bank. It is said to have the potential to become the “next Malampaya” field, referring to the Malampaya natural gas field off Palawan, which is already producing gas to fuel power plants.

“It’s not difficult to find mining sites but we have to decide what the focus should be and we’re much more interested in this prospect,” said Atok chairman Ongpin during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting.

In October last year, Atok bought Hong Kong-based Tidemark Holdings Ltd., which owns about 26 percent of Forum Energy plc, a Philippine-focused, UK-based company that is traded and listed on the alternative investment market of the London Stock Exchange.

Forum Energy, which is 64.45 percent owned by Philex Petroleum Corp., has a 70-percent interest in SC 72.

The remaining 30 percent stake in SC72 is owned by Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc., which is led by businessman Enrique Razon. Brown’s A. Brown & Co. owns 11.4 percent of Monte Oro.