Lifting of oil exploration ban in West PH sea still ongoing

By on August 29, 2017
The Department of Energy (DOE) assured that the government is working to lift the moratorium and finally resume oil and gas exploration activities on the disputed areas located in the West Philippine Sea, Malaya Business insight reported August 28.
“We are working for the lifting of the moratorium. We are identifying how do we proceed, what are the hurdles we need to resolve. There is no definite timeframe but we are doing this with a sense of urgency because we need it for our national energy security, but we are being very analytical, being very careful to make sure that we do it correctly,” DOE secretary Alfonso Cusi told reporters in an interview in Taguig City.
Cusi added “confidence building” is being done between the Philippines and China as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also coordinating with its foreign counterpart.
“We develop the trust but trust must be supported with concrete actions. It cannot happen through words alone. We have to get that so when we lift it already, no any untoward action can happen,” he said.
However, Cusi said the DFA has yet to inform the DOE of any updates on its talks with its Chinese counterpart.
While waiting for the lifting of the moratorium, the DOE said it is limited to only monitor and prepare for notices for those affected by the temporary ban of activities in the contested areas.
“DFA and DOE are working together so that we can resume work at the contested areas and we are looking for ways. By being pragmatic about it, we are looking for ways, solution, a way to move forward that is a win-win for all,” Cusi explained.
Earlier, Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of oil and gas exploration firm PXP Energy Corp., urged the government to finally lift the moratorium.
“I think it’s about time for us to engage the government, particularly (DFA) secretary (Allan Peter) Cayetano, whether we could actually get the government to allow us to restart the works that were postponed… Because all of the pronouncements appeared to have been made between the Philippines and China are moving in positive directions,” he recently said.
But according to the DOE, the company has not formally approached the agency regarding the issue.
PXP Energy earlier planned drilling activities in its service contract 72 located northwest of Palawan, but declared a force majeure event due to the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, which is estimated to hold 165 million barrels of oil and 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.

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