With increasing oil prices, PH doing everything to sign joint exploration deal with China in SCS: Roque
The Duterte administration is doing everything to reach an agreement with China for joint exploration in the South China Sea for energy security amid the rising prices of oil in the world market, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Manila by November, the joint exploration deal could be forged.
"We are doing everything we can to make sure that when President Xi comes here, we can sign a joint exploration, that we will start looking for natural gas and oil so that we can have energy security," he said.
He noted that one possible place where to drill oil is in the Reed Bank in South China Sea where the Philippine government awarded the Service Contract 72 to businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan's Forum Energy Plc.
"What is clear now is to push for joint exploration, to set aside the dispute because according to preliminary studies, SC 72 has oil, and we hope to develop it so that we will no longer depend from oil importation," Roque said.
But in order to explore the area, he said there is a need for the Philippines and China to sign first a treaty or an executive agreement for a joint exploration.
Reed Bank is within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. But China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea.
During the Aquino administration, the government declared a moratorium on the drilling for SC 72 so that it would not expire immediately while the territorial dispute in the area has not been resolved yet.
When Duterte assumed office, he decided to take a softer stance with China as far as the territorial dispute is concerned. Celerina Monte/DMS