DOE hopes Palace lifts exploration ban in West Philippine Sea this year



The Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday said it is hoping that that Malacañang would lift the moratorium on drilling and exploration activities in disputed areas of West Philippine Sea.

DOE Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido III said the department requested the Office of the President to lift the moratorium and that the Office of the President was studying the matter.

“Kami po we do want to lift the moratorium so that offshore energy exploration in that area of the West Philippine Sea can continue,” Pulido said at a news conference in Malacañang.

Asked if the DOE wanted the ban lifted within the year, Pulido said: “That’s what we’re hoping for.”

The Philippines suspended exploration activities in the Reed Bank in 2014 as it pursued international arbitration of its maritime dispute with China.

In July 2016, the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated Beijing’s historic claims to the South China Sea and spelled out the Philippines’ sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas fields within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. China refused to recognize the ruling.

The Energy department is pushing for energy security as the Philippine economy continues to expand.

The Philippines and China forged in November last year a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in oil and gas development in the South China Sea, a part of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

Last August, the Philippines and China established an intergovernmental joint steering committee to look into a possible energy cooperation. —VDS, GMA News