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The Philippines plans to pursue oil and gas exploration near contested waters in the South China Sea in a stalled project which has Chinese state firm CNOOC as a partner, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Thursday.
Cusi has presented the plan to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for approval, the energy secretary told media after a meeting of ASEAN energy ministers, Reuters reports.
The Calamian project offshore Northwest Palawan is covered by a service contract in which the joint venture partners are CNOOC with a 51 percent stake, PNOC, a subsidiary of state-held Philippine National Oil Company with 28 percent, and Mitra Energy, which is now named Jadestone Energy, with the remaining 21 percent. The Calamian lies near the main oil and gas fields in the Philippines—Malampaya, Nido, Cadlao, and Matinloc.
While the Calamian project is not in the disputed waters, exploration there has been delayed by “a lot of issues”, Reuters quoted Cusi as saying.
Regarding possible exploration in disputed waters, Cusi said:
“We are looking for a win-win solution to move things forward so that we can enjoy whatever resources are there.”
However, Cusi said that the ASEAN energy ministers did not discuss energy exploration in the South China Sea.
The ministers “agreed on the need for sustained cooperation to ensure security of energy supply and promote a low-carbon energy sector,” the Department of Energy of the Philippines said.
The so-called South China Sea dispute between China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and even tiny Brunei, has been going on for a long time.
In July last year, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China and in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case. China has not accepted the court’s ruling.
In July this year, China and the Philippines were said to be mulling over joint oil and gas exploration in the basin.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.