Poe urges exploration of Benham Rise
MANILA, Philippines—It’s about time the government and the University of the Philippines conducted a scientific research on Benham Rise off the eastern coast of Luzon to confirm possible deposits of methane and natural gas, Senator Grace Poe says in a resolution she filed in the Senate recently.
Poe said the 13-million-hectare underwater territory in the Pacific Ocean has potentially huge deposits of solid nodules of methane and natural gas which if realized could reduce the country’s dependence on imported petroleum.
Poe observed that two years after the United Nations approved the Philippine claim to the underwater plateau, the government has yet to conduct any scientific and marine research.
“Initial studies have not commenced. Information about Benham Rise is still lacking, and the area is largely unexplored,’’ she said in Senate Resolution No. 707.
In the resolution, Poe urged the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Energy and UP Marine Science Institute to conduct a scientific and marine research in the undersea landmass.
She urged the three agencies to identify the best ways to explore and development of the territory, and submit recommendations to the Senate “indicating full possession and ownership.’’
“It is time for the government to maximize and explore the Benham Rise to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil and gas products and conduct studies that could potentially turn the Philippines into a natural gas exporter,’’ she said.
Benham Rise, a region off Aurora and Isabela provinces named after its American surveyor, Andrew Benham, was mapped in 1933.
On April 8, 2009, the Philippines filed a claim to the territory, and the United Nations approved it on April 12, 2012, confirming that the landmass was part of the country’s continental shelf.
On May 3 this year, a team of 28 researches and divers dove 50 meters down to the Benham Bank, the plateau’s shallowest point.
Benham Rise is a massive formation of basalt, a common volcanic rock, and is described in a study as a thickened portion of the Philippine sea plate’s oceanic crust.
The formation lies within the continental shelf of the Philippines as defined by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Quoting Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Poe said that the undersea plateau has huge deposits of solid nodules of methane that could turn the country into a natural gas exporter.
The region is also believed to be rich in deposits of natural gas and manganese nodules, which is vital in steel production, as well as in marine resources, she said.
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