The Energy and Foreign Affairs departments have resumed discussions on the explorations ban in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and are currently preparing to move forward with the lifting of the moratorium.
Energy Chief Alfonso Cusi said that both agencies are being ‘pragmatic’ in their approach to continuing to look for solutions that would gain a ‘win-win situation’ for all, entailing that further explorations in the disputed area will reopen.
“We’re working for the lifting of moratorium. We are working together so that we can resume work at the contested areas and we are looking for ways,” Cusi said.
“We are doing this with a sense of urgency, but we’re being very analytical and careful to make sure we do the correct move,” he added, stressing that talks underway with the Foreign Affairs in Manila are “gaining headway for the lifting.”
However, the Energy Secretary refused to give a specific date on when the moratorium is set to be lifted.
“We don’t have control of all things so it’s hard to say a certain timeframe. We have to give the order that they can resume so they can start,” Cusi said.
MVP-led PXP Energy Corp. and China National offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) were in talks of pursuing possible joint project development in the Reed Bank, which is covered by Service Contract 72 of the Sampaguita natural-gas prospect located in Western Palawan.
But due to the territorial dispute with China, the Philippines declared a force majeure on the license in 2015. In July 2016, the Philippines won an arbitration case against China in which the former was given exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal disclosed.
PXP Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) extends his portfolio with Forum Energy’s 70 percent stake in the Reed Bank, while the remaining 30 percent belongs to Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc..
Earlier, MVP has expressed positivity over the warming relations between the Philippines and China and suggested to advance the PH economy with continuing the activities on oil prospects in the Reed Bank.