MANILA, Oct 5 (Mabuhay) – The government should support and not suspend oil and gas exploration in Northwest Palawan, a congressman said on Monday.
Suspending offshore exploration activities due to a dispute with China over West Philippine Sea is “totally uncalled for,” said House Deputy Minority Leader and LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty.
“We should not sacrifice our search for and development of badly needed gas and oil reserves just because of China’s saber-rattling over the West Philippine sea,” Ty said.
Instead, Ty said that the government should secure and press on the exploration works.
In separate disclosures on Friday, PetroEnergy Resources Corporation and Philex Petroleum Corp. revealed the Department of Energy issued a notice of force majeure on Service Contract No. 75 (SC 75), suspending gas and oil exploration activities in offshore Northwest Palawan.
A force majeure clause is a provision in a contract that excuses a party from not performing contractual obligations that becomes impossible or impracticable, due to an event or effect that the parties could not have anticipated or controlled, according to USLegal Inc.
Citing geological surveys by the US Energy Information Administration, Ty said the West Philippine Sea may contain up to 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.4 billion barrels of oil.
“No effort, and no expense should be spared to protect and harness the vast hydrocarbon deposits of the West Philippine Sea for the great benefit of future generations of Filipinos,” Ty said.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re taking at face value the repeated assurances of the United States that its military forces will quickly come to our aid if Philippine sovereignty is challenged,” he added.
The lawmaker called on the National Security Council to create a crisis command center and mechanism “to deal with any future untoward incident.”
“While we should avoid any untoward incident – and we hope there will be none – we should also be fully prepared to deal with such an occurrence,” Ty said.
Aside from SC 75, the DOE also suspended exploration activities under SC 58 and 72 due to geopolitical tensions in the West Philippine Sea – all three contracts cover large adjacent deepwater blocks in Northwest Palawan. (MNS)