DOE sees no adverse reaction from China regarding Philippine lifting of oil exploration in West Philippine Sea
The Department of Energy (DOE) has seen no adverse reaction from China on the Philippine decision to lift the moratorium on petroleum exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
In a televised press briefing, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi also clarified that the resumption of the exploration covers not only the areas previously granted with service contracts but the entire exclusive economic zone of the country.
"From what I've read from the reaction of China, I didn't see any adverse reaction. What they've said, the talks continue between the Philippines and China for joint development in West Philippine Sea," he said.
He reiterated that Chinese companies could participate in the exploration provided that they will secure the license from the DOE.
Cusi said the Philippines is exercising its sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Asked on the possibility of China causing trouble on the Philippine exploration in the West Philippine Sea, Cusi said, "the relation of the Philippines and China has improved since President (Rodrigo) Duterte came into power and it has reached a new maturity."
He said the ties between the two countries are based on "mutual respect as countries and President Duterte also respects China."
Cusi said the lifting of the moratorium covers not only the five service contracts, namely SC 54, 58, 59, 72, and 75, but the whole West Philippine Sea.
"The lifting is not only the five service contracts, the lifting is on the entire West Philippine Sea. It's in our exclusive economic zone in that whole area," he said.
Cusi said that aside from the five SC areas, there are three other companies applying to explore other parts of West Philippine Sea. He said his office is now evaluating the applications.
A day after the DOE announced last week that it was lifting the suspension of the exploration in the West Philippine Sea, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said there was a consensus between the two countries about the joint exploration of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea.
If China was referring to the memorandum of understanding that was signed in 2018, Cusi agreed that there was a consensus and it is still being pursued.
He cited that in the case of SC 72, which is at Recto Bank, the Filipino company Forum Energy has been looking for a Chinese counterpart that is interested to partner in the exploration.
Despite an arbitral ruling in 2016 favoring Manila, Beijing has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, which is within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Celerina Monte/DMS