Cusi: Service contracts of oil firms in WPS ‘will be protected’
The rights of oil companies to explore and drill for fuel in some portions of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) “will be protected.”
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi made this assurance on Friday after the government recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for oil and gas development cooperation with China.
“I must emphasize that whatever the outcome of this MOU, the rights of existing Service Contract holders will be protected,” Cusi said in a statement.
“I understand that there is great interest in the MOU signed with China. I would ask for everyone’s patience until the full details are ready to be made public,” he added.
Should the two nations come up with a joint exploration deal in the West Philippine Sea, a moratorium which was signed in 2015 must be lifted first for the deal to move forward.
Under the Aquino administration, exploration and drilling activities were stopped in areas covered by the overlapping claims of China and the Philippines amid the longstanding territorial rift.
The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a moratorium on all exploration and drilling works in Service Contracts 72 and 75 in December 2014 and 2015, respectively, amid rising maritime tension with the Asian powerhouse.
Service Contract 72, which covers the Reed Bank, was awarded to Forum Energy Plc. while Service Contract 75 was awarded to PXP Energy Corp.
Cusi also said that the signed MOU will only provide “a framework for any possible future cooperation, which may or may not include joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.”
“As the secretary of Energy, my priority is safe-guarding our country’s long-term energy security,” Cusi said.
“A component of this is developing new indigenous energy resources in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
On Tuesday, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit here, the two nations signed 29 agreements, one which was the MOU on cooperation in oil and gas development. /muf
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