DOE to process more applications for WPS explorations

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Amid Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements that he can no longer get back territories claimed by China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Department of Energy (DOE) said it still aims to process more applications for oil and gas service contracts within the heated waters.

“The DOE has been busy seeking investors into petroleum blocks in the West Philippines Sea. Also, new service contracts (SC) have been awarded or in process,” Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.

Former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio previously said in media interviews that the government’s leanings towards giving up its sovereign rights would threaten the development of the country’s oil and gas resources.

“With due respect to Justice Carpio, I think that is exactly what the government did when, in October last year we lifted the moratorium and ordered the resumption of the petroleum activities in several license areas that have been dormant for many years because of unjust moratorium,” Cusi said.

The DOE did not yet name the investors with SC applications which are in process, but it hinted that some applications were submitted last year.

Last year, the government lifted the oil exploration ban in the WPS and a “resume-to-work” notice was issued to the service contractors doing petroleum related activities in SCs 59, 72, and 75. 

SC59 is operated by the government-run PNOC-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC), while SCs 72 and 75 are operated by Manny V. Pangilinan-led PXP Energy Corporation. 

Earlier, PNOC-EC said it is unlikely to begin its first-oil drilling activities within the remaining days of the Duterte administration because they still need to conduct further studies, which may take 12 months. 

SC38 or the Malampaya gas field and Ayala’s SC55 blocks are also located in the WPS.

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