Cusi to seek joint exploration talks with China in West Phl Sea
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi wants to  further discuss joint exploration efforts in the West Philippine Sea with his Chinese counterparts once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted.

In an interview, Cusi said the Department of Energy (DOE) and its counterpart agency in China were supposed to hold a meeting on joint exploration earlier this year.

However, the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the quarantine in the country stalled the visit of Chinese officials to the country.

“Maybe after the quarantine, we will sit down with our Chinese counterpart to see what is the best way to explore and exploit the resources,” Cusi said.

There are no specific details yet as to when and where the meeting will take place, but a way forward would be discussed, the Energy chief said.

“We will discuss how to do joint exploration at the West Philippine Sea, find a way forward. But there are no specifics yet,” Cusi said in a text message.

The Philippine and Chinese officials last held a meeting on joint exploration in December last year.

The joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea follows the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by President Duterte and the Chinese president in November 2018.

Both countries are forming a framework for joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea in the spirit of cooperation and reaching a common goal of the possibility of joint exploration activities in the disputed waters.

Cusi had previously emphasized the importance of undertaking joint exploration activities not only with China, but also with fellow ASEAN member-countries, to help the Philippines attain energy security through energy resource exploration and development.

“We need to exploit whatever resources are there in the West Philippine Sea so that our people can benefit from it. How can we exploit it? We are looking for partners,” he said.

The DOE has also been pushing for oil and gas exploration and development in the country and launched the PCECP in November last year as part of an intensified thrust to develop the petroleum exploration industry for global competitiveness.

Presently, there are only 23 active Petroleum Service Contracts (PSC) in the country, with the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project as the most successful PSC stemming from the previous Philippine Energy Contracting Round.

Operating since 2001, the Malampaya project supplies fuel to around 40 percent of gas-fired plants in Luzon namely the Ilijan, Sta. Rita plant, San Lorenzo, San Gabriel and Avion plants – which supply 3,211 megawatts (MW) to the Luzon grid.

ALFREDO CUSI DOE
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