Duterte lifts freeze on West Philippine Sea oil exploration

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the lifting of the suspension on oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

The moratorium imposed by the Aquino administration in 2014 due to heightened tensions between the Philippines and China was a big blow to the oil industry.

” We need to explore so we may address the country’s energy security,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said amid the expected depletion of the Malampaya natural gas field, the Philippines’ main domestic source of energy.

The lifting paves the way for the resumption of petroleum activities in the the areas of Service Contract 59, 72, and 75 in the West Philippine Sea.

The MVP Group’s PXP Energy Corp.

holds a 79% interest in UK-based Forum Energy Plc., which has a 70% stake in SC 72, an oil-and-gas-exploration permit covering the Sampaguita natural-gas prospect in the Reed Bank.

Meanwhile, SC 59 and 72 are operated by the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) and Forum Ltd., respectively.

Cusi said the lifting of the suspension would inject the much needed investments to perk up the economy.

“The lifting of the suspension places the service contractors under legal obligation to put capital into the contract areas and hire Filipino engineers and technical workers to resume exploration,” he said.

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