DOE hoping for lifting of WPS oil exploration ban this year
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Energy (DOE) is hoping Malacañang will lift the existing moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea within the year.
In a Palace briefing Wednesday, Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido said the DOE has sent a letter requesting the Office of the President to lift the ban on exploration and drilling activities in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Department of Energy sent a request with the Office of the President if we could lift the moratorium. I am unaware of the exact stage where it is currently, but what I am aware of is that the Office of the President is currently studying the lifting of the moratorium,” Pulido said.
The DOE official explained that the initial request was sent to the OP “sometime in 2018” and was followed up by a memorandum to provide more details and explanation on the lifting of the moratorium.
When asked if the DOE is eyeing to lift the moratorium this year, Pulido said: “That’s what we’re hoping.”
The Aquino administration issued a moratorium on all exploration and drilling activities covering the disputed West Philippine Sea in 2014 amid rising geopolitical tensions between the Philippines and China.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to China enabled the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Manila and Beijing for a joint oil and gas exploration deal in the West Philippine Sea.
During Duterte’s 5th visit to China last month, the two countries form an intergovernmental joint steering committee that will finalize agreements of the deal.
The committee is composed of government officials and will be led by the foreign department or ministry of both countries and co-chaired by the energy department or ministry of both countries.
The “two governments will endeavor to agree on the cooperation arrangements”, due in November, according to the MOU. /jpv
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