AFP to secure drilling at new deepwater exploratory well off Zambales
The military said on Monday it would secure plans to drill a new deepwater exploratory well in the West Philippine Sea as the activity would be within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the activity, to be carried out by an Australian-Filipino consortium, would be protected by the Philippine Navy.
“That area borders on the exclusive economic zone, so any exploration must be protected by our Philippine Navy, so it’s incumbent for us since we have to protect our territory,” said the AFP public affairs office chief, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato.
However, the military official did not disclose how many units or which vessels will be deployed to secure the project.
An Australian-Filipino consortium will drill a new deepwater exploratory well in the West Philippine Sea in hopes of tapping a commercially viable oil reservoir.
The private consortium that runs Petroleum Service Contract 55 will drill the Hawkeye exploratory well on August 1 after the July 31 arrival of the super deepwater drill ship Maersk Venturer.
The consortium, composed of Australia’s Otto Energy Investments Ltd., Red Emperor Resources NL, and Palawan 55 Exploration and Production Corp., is spending $24.5 million or P1.1 billion to drill the well.
It may be recalled that in March, the Department of Energy granted a force majeure on a separate petroleum exploration concession in the West Philippine Sea since it fell within the area being contested by the Philippines and China.
Although the SC 55 site is not situated in parts of the West Philippine Sea being disputed by China, it is still well within the exclusive economic zone.
Detoyato said they were still in the process of knowing the specifics of the drilling but it would be off the coast of Zambales.
He added that they would secure the drilling team in case of harassment from the Chinese, although there have been no manifestations so far that Chinese would block the drilling.
“We don’t expect any but we are prepared (for harassment),” Detoyato said, declining to answer on what the military’s actions would be should China conduct its own drilling activities in the area.
He added that the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard would secure any economic activities within Philippine waters.
“We have to guarantee them because they are within Philippine waters… As long as they are within Philippine waters,” Detoyato said.
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