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In 1976, significant quantities of oil were discovered offshore northwest of Palawan Island by a Philippine-American consortium led by Philippines-Cities Service, Inc. This was the first commercial oil found in the Philippine Islands.
Other exploration companies had decided that there was no commercial oil in the Philippines. They fell prey to a situation Wallace E. Pratt, who began his career in 1909 in the Philippines, later described: "There are many instances where our knowledge, supported in come cases by elaborate and detailed studies...has convinced us that no petroleum resources were present in areas which subsequently became sites of important oil fields." As an example, he mentioned some of the world's best exploration companies who concluded, "There is no oil in Arabia," shortly before the first major Arabian discoveries. More recent examples are the North Sea and offshore eastern Canada. Wallace E. Pratt implied that an oil explorer's chances of success will improve if he or she uses exploration and sci ntific knowledge to discover what is unknown to others.
Some explorers are blinded by the negative implications of the same knowledge that successful explorers use to find important oil fields. The Palawan discoveries are examples of successful use of knowledge. Recognition that the Philippine Islands are a "tectonic railroad siding" may be the key to future exploration success. These islands are continental fragments, each with its own individual geologic characteristics, that have
moved from elsewhere to their present positions along a major strike-slip zone. Play concepts can be developed in the Philippines for continental fragments in each of the three major present-day tectono-stratigraphic systems that are dominated by strike-slip, but include subduction and extension tectonics, with both carbonate and clastic sediments.
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