by Ellson A. Quismorio
A member of Congress has urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to reactivate the oil and gas exploration ventures in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) which were temporarily suspended in 2015 due to the country’s territorial dispute with the People’s Republic of China.
“It is in the national interest that we renew forthwith the quest for new deep-water natural gas deposits because Malampaya, which supplies some 40 percent of Luzon’s power demand, might be depleted within the next decade,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said Sunday.
The DOE put on hold three offshore oil and gas explorations in northwestern Palawan last year out of respect for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in
The Hague that was then hearing the maritime case filed by the Philippine government against China.
Of the three projects, SC 72 is widely regarded as the most promising, as it covers the gas-rich Reed Bank, also known as Recto Bank, at the northeast end of the Spratly archipelago.
Reed Bank is believed to hold the bulk of the West Philippine Sea’s estimated 55.1 trillion cubic feet of gas and 5.4 billion barrels of oil reserves, based on a previous study by the US Energy Information Administration.
Reed Bank’s Sampaguita field alone could contain up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet of gas plus some 115 million barrels of oil – much larger than Malampaya’s 2.7 trillion cubic feet of gas and 85 million barrels of condensate.
“It’s high time to allow the resumption of the stalled projects, considering the arbitral tribunal’s verdict that the areas involved are well within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Pimentel said.