Unknown to many, apart from its geopolitical significance, beneath the vast area of the South China Sea are potentially oil-rich regions enough to boost a country’s economy, reports revealed.
According to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as reported by Fortune, at least 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are sitting beneath the highly contested maritime zone.
Philippines’ Planned Expansion
The Philippines, which is one of the countries vocal against China’s encroachment in the maritime zone, runs the Malampaya gas field with the Dutch petrol firm Shell. But its planned expansion is hurdled by China’s aggressive claiming of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The amount of oil beneath South China Sea is more than Mexico’s total reserve, the report noted. But the Philippines’ hands are tied, as its plans for the Malampaya gas field expansion has been halted by a moratorium handed down in 2014.
Meanwhile, local oil companies are exploring other avenues as to how they can go about the moratorium still in effect, now that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has declared China’s position in the contested maritime zone illegal.
Matter Of National Importance
But Manuel Pangilinan, Chairman of the state-run Philex Petroleum, said no local firms have the technology to support their plan, adding that they’re in need of a partner, probably foreign.
“It’s a matter of national importance. We don’t want to move on our own without guidance from the government. The moratorium stays. We are exploring ways to resolve the conflict peacefully and we follow the lead of the President,” Pangilinan said.
The Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Emmanuel Carpio said that the Reed Banks, an oil-rich field in the West Philippine Sea, is for the Philippines to explore. But the magistrate, who was one of the key personalities in the Philippines delegates in The Hague, has cautioned his fellow Filipinos to be cautious before taking action, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
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