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Philippines To Explore South China Sea For Oil Amid China Dispute

The Philippines says it will go ahead with plans to build defense alliances with the U.S. and its Western allies in a bid to make it possible for the Southeast Asian nation to explore oil-and-gas-rich South China Sea.

I really do think it’s quite urgent that we start now,” Philippine’s Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jnr told Bloomberg News in an interview on Wednesday in his office in Manila, adding that oil exploration is “part of the package” of the country’s strategy to protect its territory. 

Territorial disputes in the South China Sea erupted after Beijing laid a sweeping claim to sovereignty over the sea--home to an estimated 11 billion barrels of untapped oil. However, scores of countries including the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have opposed China while a 2016 international tribunal took a similar stance. 

The Philippines, which imports nearly all its fuel requirements, is desperate to find new energy sources as a key local gas field nears depletion. However, it has to contend with China which frequently deploys military ships in the contested waters.

This could mean that they really want total domination and control over everything from free passage to resources, or they want to bear hug the Philippines to make them the sole joint venture partner in the exploration or exploitation of resources in this area,” Teodoro has said. 

Tensions between the two nations have escalated over the past year with the Philippines vowing to reject any joint exploration that fails to  recognize the nation’s right to exclusively exploit these resources.

Territorial disputes over the South China Sea date back to the 1970s when countries began to claim various zones and islands in the sea, such as the Spratly Islands, which possess rich natural resources and fishing areas. 

China maintains that foreign militaries are not allowed to conduct intelligence-gathering activities, including reconnaissance flights, in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 


By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on January 18 2024 said:
    Is the Philippines seeking a Western defence alliance to enable it to explore for oil in a disputed area with China in the South China Sea or is it using the exploration for oil as an excuse to join a Western defence alliance at the behest of the United States?

    Either way it will be playing with fire .

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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