An Australian-Filipino conglomerate is set to drill a new deep-water exploratory oil well in the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea.
LPG-MA or Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers’s Association released the news on Sunday.
The group intends to unlock any commercially viable oil reserves in the disputed region.
The privately held consortium will begin drilling in August of this year after the arrival of the super deep-water drill-ship the Maersk Venturer reaches in the site.
“We applaud the consortium’s resolve to push through with the drilling of the well, at a time when many oil and gas explorers around the world have abandoned their search for new hydrocarbon deposits amid the 50-percent plunge in oil prices,” said Ty, who speaks for the minority bloc in the House energy committee.
“This new drilling underscores the strategic economic value of the West Philippine Sea, which is the source of most of the country’s productive offshore oil and gas fields, and is believed to hoard stacks of hydrocarbon that, once harnessed, could enable the Philippines to become self-sufficient in its future energy needs,” Ty added.
“Fortunately, SC 55 is not situated in contested territory in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
In March, Department of Energy (DOE) granted a force majeure on a separate petroleum exploration concession in the West Philippine Sea — SC 72 — because it falls within the disputed area that is now the subject of a United Nations arbitration process between the Philippines and China.
Forum Energy Plc, the operator of SC 72, had no choice but suspend all exploration work over its contract area “until further notice from the DOE.”
SC 72 covers the gas-rich Recto (Reed) Bank, a disputed area that is farther northwest off Palawan compared to SC 55.
The region is said to have an estimate 112-million barrels of oil – the group will spend 1.1-billion pesos to drill the Hawkeye well.
The group includes Australia’s Otto Energy Investment Ltd. and Red Emperor Resources NL, as well as Palawan 55 Exploration and Production Corp.
A nearby well is said to have an estimated 2.4-trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the second largest gas reserve in the entire country.
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