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Exploration resumes as PRRD approves DOE recommendation

President Duterte approves exploration for energy security

MANILA – Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the lifting of oil exploration moratorium in the South China Sea, also known as West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“I thank the President for approving the DOE recommendation. We need to explore so we may address the country’s energy security,” Secretary Cusi was quoted in a statement released by the Department of Energy early Thursday evening.

According to Republic Act 7638 or the “Department of Energy Act of 1992,” the DOE has the authority to regulate the exploration of the country’s indigenous energy resources.

“With the impending depletion of our natural gas reserve in Malampaya, it is the Department’s position that there is an urgent imperative to resume exploration, development, and production activities within our Exclusive Economic Zone to ensure continuity of supply of indigenous resources in the country,” he further said.

He added that a “Resume-to-Work” notice has been issued by the DOE to the Service Contractors doing petroleum-related activities in the areas of SC (Service Contract) 59, 72, and 75 in the West Philippine Sea. The activities were earlier suspended on the ground of force majeure because of the dispute on the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.

Service Contract 59 is operated by the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation while Service Contract 72 is operated by forum Ltd.. PXP Energy Corporation operates Service Contract 75.

Secretary Cusi underscored that the lifting of the suspension will infuse the economy with new foreign direct investments and would generate high-skills jobs, which are needed to boost the economic recovery as the country reels from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The lifting of the suspension places the service contractors under legal obligation to put capital into the contract areas and hire Filipino engineers and technical workers to resume exploration,” he added.

He has already informed Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. of the President’s approval of the DOE’s recommendation. The lifting of the moratorium was reached in good faith and with full regard of the ongoing negotiations between the Philippines and China, and Forum Ltd. and the China National Offshore Corporation (CNOOC).

“The oasis of peace that the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs envision must also be an oasis of prosperity. For this to happen, the Philippines must restart its economy using the engine of energy resiliency and security,” he said in a letter addressed to Secretary Locsin, according to the DOE statement. (Melo M. Acuña)

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi (DOE File Photo)

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