Conflict of interest for Del Rosario in Reed Bank?

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2016 05:15 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2016 01:11 PM

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Monday debunked claims that he was adamant in pushing for the Philippines' entitlement to the Reed Bank due to his ties to Philex Petroleum Corporation.

Del Rosario is a director at the Manuel V. Pangilinan-owned companies Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Metro Pacific, and was part of the MVP Group even prior to being Cabinet secretary.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart with Karen Davila, Del Rosario said they fought for the Reed Bank for the whole nation, not only Pangilinan's company.

"I think that’s unfair. I was working for the country. If Manny benefited from that, we’ll benefit from that. It’s not something that will be out of the ordinary," he said.

"The whole nation will benefit," he said.

Del Rosario said the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Platform, which supplies almost half the electricity of Luzon, is estimated to last until only ten more years, so the development of Reed Bank as the alternative should be looked into at the soonest time possible since it would also take ten years to get it going.

A report from the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2013 said the Reed Bank could hold up to 55.1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas and 5.4 billion barrels of petroleum.

Quoting data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the EIA estimates the disputed Spratly Islands territory may contain significant deposits of undiscovered hydrocarbons.

“USGS assessments estimate anywhere between 0.8 and 5.4 (mean 2.5) billion barrels of oil and between 7.6 and 55.1 (mean 25.5) tcf of natural gas in undiscovered resources,” the EIA said

The Department of Energy (DOE) suspended all drilling and exploration works in the West Philippine Sea in 2015, citing force majeure as the site was the subject of an arbitration case brought to court by the Philippines.

Pangilinan's Philex Petroleum holds a 60.49 percent interest in Forum Energy, which operates in Service Contract (SC) 72, an area particularly covered by the exploration suspension.