Welcome gift to Xi: Oil exploration deal
The Philippine government wants to sign a joint oil exploration agreement with China in the West Philippine Sea by November when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Manila.
Malacañang said it was hopeful that a joint agreement would help pave the way for commercial oil production by 2027, which would reduce the Philippines’ dependence on foreign petroleum products.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that when President Xi comes here, we can sign the joint exploration so we can begin looking for natural gas and oil and ensure our energy security,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Setting conflict aside
Roque made the remarks in a press briefing on Tuesday, amid another round of price increases in petroleum products.
He said the Philippines must set aside its territorial conflict with China and pursue joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
The proposed joint exploration agreement in the contested territory, according to Roque, could be signed when Xi visits Manila next month.
Earlier, the government said it was working on a framework for a possible joint oil exploration with China without the Philippines compromising its territorial claims.
“It is clear that we have to pursue joint exploration and set aside our territorial conflict,” Roque said.
“Preliminary studies showed that Service Contract (SC) 72 has oil reserves. We hope to get this so we will no longer depend on imported oil,” Roque said.
He added that the government hoped to tap the oil reserves in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in SC 72, which covers Reed Bank.
The Malampaya natural gas field in Palawan has a contract until 2022, but the field could still supply gas until 2032.
“As it is, we’re really dependent on foreign crude products. If Malampaya, which gives us electricity, runs out, we’ll have a bigger problem,” Roque said.
This was the reason that the government was hoping to have commercial oil production in SC 72 by 2027, he said.
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