DOE calls for removal of oil exploration ban in West PH sea

Nido Petroleum Ltd. starts evaluation of project expansion

 The Department of Energy (DOE) has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to end the suspension of exploration and drilling activities in the West Philippine sea.

Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella told reporters that the energy department has already sent a letter asking the DFA to lift the moratorium in the said disputed areas.

The request was initiated by Forum Energy Ltd. When they sent a letter regarding the removal of the force majeure included in Service Contract 72 in Reed Bank.

“Kasi may request na ‘yung PXP na i-lift ‘yung force majeure … The application of PXP is specific case sa kanilang service contract and they want it lifted,” Fuentebella said.

PXP Energy has a 77.5 percent controlling stake in Forum Energy, which in turn holds 70 percent interest in SC 72.

Forum Energy requested a specific area for the removal of the ban, while the DOE requested for the moratorium lift for the entire West Philippine Sea.

The ban on all exploration and drilling activities in the West Philippine Sea was issued during the Aquino administration due to the rising geopolitical tensions between the Philippines and China.

Based on data collected by PXP, SC 72’s Sampaguita Gas Fields contain a huge volume of potential gas reserves.

“The force majeure is triggered by that moratorium … Ang lifting naman, it will depend now on the DFA kung it will be total or specific cases only,” Fuentebella said.

Fuentebella added that it is only timely for the removal of the suspension as a memorandum of understanding between the country and China has already been signed, signaling a start for a joint exploration for oil and gas in the West PH sea.

“The agreement with China is that, number one, it should be in accordance with international laws, rules. Number two, it should be compliant with municipal laws, 1987 Constitution, and their law,” Fuentebella said.

“Energy security talaga ‘yung ating issue because we have to explore some more,” Fuentebella added.