The Philippines is preparing to sign the two joint oil and gas exploration agreements with China.
This was what Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said before the scheduled visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country later this month as the Philippines seeks to strengthen the economic ties of the two countries.
Cusi also reiterated his stance for calling on the lifting of the ban on drilling works in a disputed area in South China Sea.
One of the projects included an exploration between state-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd., located off Calamian in southwestern Palawan province, Cusi told Manila Bulletin in a news briefing.
Cusi was referring to Service Contract 57 which covers an oil and gas project awarded to PNOC’s exploration unit, and picked CNOOC as a partner.
Cusi did not share details for Service Contract 72, an exploration permit held by the Philippines’ PXP Energy Corp. for Reed Bank, but clarified that the Reed Bank, another disputed South China Sea area, is not of the two.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, which is said to have rich energy reserves and marine resources. Other countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan are also claiming the area.
Before the DOE suspended the drilling works in late 2014 due to the territorial dispute, PXP had held talks with CNOOC regarding joint exploration and development for the Sampaguita natural gas prospect.
Cusi reiterated his agenda to discuss lifting of the Reed Bank exploration ban but did not share other issues to be discussed with Xi during the visit.
“The issue of the lifting is being taken care of by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) because of the diplomatic issue,” Cusi was quoted as saying. “As far as the DOE is concerned, so that we can resume exploration, we need to lift that moratorium.”