The Department of Energy said Friday it recommended the award of three new service contracts at the West Philippine Sea to the Office of the President.
Meanwhile, three oil and gas service contractors sought suspension of work activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The DOE said the three service contracts are SC 54, SC 58 and SC 59.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the award follows the policy of President Rodrigo Duterte on the promotion of energy security and the exercise of sovereign rights, including the lifting of the moratorium on oil and gas activities in the WPS and the resumption of all programmed work and financial plans in the area.
Cusi said these activities are concrete and explicit forms of the enforcement of sovereign rights consistent with real gains in the South China Sea arbitral award.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, petroleum licensing is the most important sovereign right of a coastal state like the Philippines. With the lifting of the moratorium in the WPS, the service contractors are obliged to comply with approved work commitments in their respective areas.
The DOE said SC 72 or the Recto Bank consortium is set to drill exploratory wells next year while the SC 75 group is scheduled to conduct exploratory activities. Exploration activities include a thorough study and understanding of the geological and geophysical characteristics of the area, as well as the conduct of on-site survey and drilling activities.
It said that because of the significant investment involved in carrying out exploration programs, on-site exploration activities are carefully planned to ensure the maximum coverage of data collection in the study area.
Physical structures such as production platforms will only be installed prior to the production of petroleum in commercial quantities.
Cusi said DOE was consistently monitoring the progress of each project and ensuring that the service contractors’ commitments are being fulfilled.
All service contractors are conducting activities in compliance with their commitments, and are well within the approved timeframe. Resumption of work is well underway and not only in paper.
“The DOE urges the public, including the media, to support the government’s efforts to exercise our sovereign rights in the WPS consistent with the arbitral award,” said Cusi.