Cusi pushes for joint exploration of WPS with ASEAN neighbors

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Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi reiterated his call for joint exploration activities between the Philippines and its neighboring members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The secretary made his pitch, as he virtually joined fellow energy ministers in the 38th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) recently. Cusi particularly requested the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) to revisit the existing sharing agreements on oil and gas exploration and production, and to recommend similar or modified agreements for possible adoption, saying this would fast track the attainment of energy security in the region. The secretary first made this proposal during the 37th AMEM last year.

“With all of us sharing the common aspiration of attaining energy security for our respective countries, we must maximize the advantages of belonging to this multilateral Association in order to fast track its realization,” Cusi pointed out.

The secretary also took the opportunity to brief the AMEM on President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) recommendation to resume oil and gas exploration in the WPS following a six-year moratorium.

“This development would augur well for our economic recovery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, given that the resumption of work would infuse our economy with fresh investments and help generate high-skill employment opportunities,” Cusi said.

Administrative Order 29 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012 defines the WPS as the body of water west of the Philippine archipelago and are within the country’s exclusive economic zone, which is all waters 200 nautical miles from the shoreline. China and some ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, have ownership claims in the South China Sea, which includes the WPS.

He also thanked the ASCOPE for its work on the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline Project, as well as its studies on establishing a common gas market, small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG), and LNG Bunkering.

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