China’s SCS expansion weakening Philippines energy security — experts


MANILA, Philippines — China’s blocking of exploration of possible power sources in the South China Sea by the Philippines has weakened the country’s energy security, maritime experts said.

“The Philippines has been eager to tap natural gas reserves beneath Reed Bank for over a decade but has been stymied by Chinese opposition,” wrote Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Gregory Poling, director of the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, in a commentary.

Glaser and Poling referred to an incident where a survey vessel hired by Forum Energy, which is majority owned by the Philippines’ PXP Energy Corp., was expelled from the area by Chinese naval vessels in 2011.

Their commentary, titled “Vanishing Borders in the South China Sea,” was published on June 5 in the magazine Foreign Affairs.

Under the government of President Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, Manila’s PXP Energy, then known as Philex Petroleum, discussed possible joint exploration with Beijing’s China National Offshore Oil Corp. or CNOOC.

In 2013, negotiations between PXP Energy and CNOOC was stopped after the Philippine government contested the validity of Beijing’s sea claims before a United Nations-backed tribunal.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, shortly after Aquino’s successor, President Duterte assumed office.

The ruling awarded the Philippines “sovereign rights” over Recto or Reed Bank, Panganiban or Mischief and Ayungin Shoal.