MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is ready to defend the oil and gas exploration it has decided to resume in its internationally recognized waters in the disputed South China Sea and will not cede this right to any country, the chief said on Friday. energy.
The Department of Energy announced Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved his recommendation to lift a 6-year moratorium on energy exploration in three offshore areas in the western Philippines, including the potentially rich Reed Bank. oil and gas, which China also claims. Companies with exploration contracts with the government have been urged to resume their search for oil, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Cusi told reporters in an online press conference on Friday that China had not been made aware of the Philippine government’s decision to resume oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, a 200-mile stretch of water. where a coastal state can exclusively exploit maritime resources under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Reed Bank and two other exploration areas are in the Philippine Exclusive Zone, but China will likely assert its claim, Cusi said. “They won’t take it without saying anything. I’m sure they will write to us, ”he said.
When asked how the Philippines would react if China protested or intervened in high seas exploration, Cusi replied, “We have to stand up for our rights, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Exploration companies have been assured that they will be protected by a 500-meter (1,650-foot) security buffer zone, Cusi said, without giving further details. He said he expected “China to respect this”.
In 2011, a Philippine exploration vessel reported being harassed by two Chinese patrol boats at Reed Bank, prompting a military commander to deploy two planes.
Chinese patrol boats were gone by the time the Philippine plane reached the area, military officials said at the time.