Solon: PH has ‘no choice’ but to proceed with gas drilling activities in Recto Bank
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has “no choice” but to proceed with the drilling activities in Recto Bank, regardless of the ongoing tension with China in the contested waters, a House leader said Tuesday.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, who chairs the House committee on strategic intelligence, said the Sampaguita gas field in Recto Bank could yield up to $18.2 billion (P910 billion) in future royalties for the government, based on a 60 percent net share.
“We have no choice but to carry on with the drilling activities because the Sampaguita gas discovery in Recto Bank has the potential to energize the entire national grid – not just Luzon – for the next 20 to 30 years,” Pimentel said in a statement.
According to Pimentel, Sampaguita is “an untapped value-changing asset” with up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet of gas, while Malampaya, which has been producing gas for the last 20 years, has only 1.6 trillion cubic feet of residual gas.
“In fact, if the groups clamoring for a government buyout of the Malampaya gas field really want to carry on with their foolishness, they should target Sampaguita, which is far more valuable to the country’s future energy security,” he added.
Pimentel likewise warned the Department of Energy (DOE) against imposing another force majeure on Forum Energy Ltd., the operator of Sampaguita, which is located 250 kilometers southwest of Malampaya.
“A second force majeure would be a colossal sign of weakness on the part of the Philippine government,” Pimentel said.
“We also do not want Forum Energy to invoke the tensions as an excuse to voluntarily postpone the programmed gas drilling activities,” he added.
Pimentel pointed out that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has ruled in July 2016 that Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as defined under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea—thus giving the country absolute rights to exploit the resources in the area.
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