Pangilinan bats for resumption of oil exploration in Reed Bank

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2019 08:57 PM

MANILA - PXP Energy Corp chairman Manny Pangilinan on Tuesday said he has asked the government to lift the ban on energy exploration in a disputed area of the West Philippine Sea where the company has a service contract. 

Pangilinan said he has written the Department of Energy asking to allow exploration in Reed Bank to determine if there is gas in the area and see if gas can be extracted in commercial quantities. 

PXP Energy holds the right to drill in Reed Bank, which is claimed by both Manila and Beijing. 

Drilling in the area off the coast of Palawan was put on hold following several tense encounters at sea in late 2014, as the Aquino government pursued international arbitration. 

However, last year, the Philippines and China signed an agreement to set up a joint committee that will be "responsible for negotiating and agreeing the cooperation arrangement and maritime areas to which it will apply."

“My understanding is that there is some broad understanding that within 12 months from the signing of that MOU (memorandum of understanding) which I believe was early December, there should be compulsory an agreement on the commercial terms of the exploration," Pangilinan said. 

He said the MOU between the Manila and Beijing is clear that the exploration of oil and gas in the area be undertaken by the relevant concessionaire, and that Beijing has designated the China National Offshore Oil Corp to be the partner of the relevant concessionaire.

Senior Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier warned that a joint development in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone would violate the Constitution.

But last year, Carpio said that China could be recognizing the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the disputed waters of the South China Sea covered in the MOU.