Duterte’s China visit stirs hope for West Philippine Sea explorations

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With the growing “relationship” between China and the Philippines, there is hope that oil and gas exploration projects in the West Philippine Sea will finally push through, Manuel Pangilinan said.

“I think it offers some hope that there could be some understanding with China on how we can, at the least, explore,” he said.

Pangilinan chairs the PXP Energy Corp, which has a 70 percent operating interest in Service Contract 72 that explores the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea. The company also has a direct operating interest of 50 percent in SC 75 in northwest of Palawan.

Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip in China, reports said that the two nations have agreed to resume talks on the disputed waters.

In a statement, the two countries said that they will address the territorial and jurisdictional dispute on the West Philippine Sea “without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.”

A moratorium released in 2012 suspended all explorations and drilling works in the disputed waters amid tension with China.

The moratorium still holds until today, even after the favorable decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) last July which states that China’s nine – dash line has no legal basis and the country has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in constructing artificial islands, interfering with Filipinos’ fishing and oil exploration.

“It’s suspended, so on that basis, we cannot undertake any activities in that area without DOE consent. But our work program has also been suspended so it will not expire until government lifts the suspension,” Pangilinan said.

The Recto Bank is estimated to have as much as 16.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 416 million barrels of oil in its area.

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