Gov’t ready to protect Phl oil and gas resources in WPS—Cusi

The government is ready to “take necessary steps” to protect the oil and gas resources in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) amid Chinese occupancy in the area.

“The Philippines remains in business, COVID-19 and China, notwithstanding,” Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said Wednesday.

“Should any foreign state engage in petroleum activities inside the Philippine petroleum jurisdiction, the DoE shall take the necessary steps to protect our licensees and preserve our resources.”

Cusi said the DoE will “defer to the sole prerogative of the President regarding any security option” in asserting the exclusive licensing authority of the country over petroleum and other resources in the seabed and subsoil of the WPS.

“It shall also conform to any decision that the Department of Foreign Affairs might take regarding the ongoing informal negotiations on oil and gas cooperation with China,” he added.

Under the law, only the Philippine government, through the DoE, may issue licenses to drill in Philippine land territory, including its islands, internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and continental shelf.

According to Cusi, the DoE continues to develop the uncontested Philippine EEZ and continental shelf through the resumption of petroleum operations by our licensees and the award of new petroleum areas.

In October 2020, the DoE lifted the moratorium on the exploration activities in the WPS, which is anticipated to rake in an initial investment of $25 million by service contractors.

Apart from that, $78 million worth of remaining minimum investments from the service contractors could also be raised.

The latest data from the DoE showed that there are about 6,048 million barrels of oil (MMBO) and 7,108 billion cubic feet of natural gas (BCF) of undiscovered resources in the WPS.

That was on top of the 155 MMBO and 5,050 BCF already discovered before the enforcement of force majeure during the Aquino administration.

Underscoring the crucial role” that the energy sector plays in the promotion of sustainability and socio-economic development, Briguez said the government needs to accelerate the development of new energy supply.

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