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Gas exploration plans in Philippines Rise in the pipeline

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)  is still finalizing plans to explore the potential gas resources in the Philippine Rise.

“We have yet to uncover through the conduct of more marine science researches, the possible presence of large deposits of methane in solid form, which could be a potential rich source of natural gas,” Environment Undersecretary Analiza Teh said in a virtual press conference yesterday.

Teh said the DENR currently does not have any estimate of the amount of methane that could be found in the Philippine Rise.

“We are still finalizing our plans as to how we will conduct the exploration to determine the extent of resources relative to mining and,in fact even the potential for energy resources,” Teh said.

The 24-million hectare Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise,  was declared by the United Nations as part of the country’s extended continental shelf in 2012.

While the natural gas potential of the Philippine Rise has yet to be uncovered, Teh said several expeditions have already been sent to the Benham bank, which is the shallowest portion of the Philippine Rise.

She shared that in 2014 a team composed of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, the Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) was sent on a expedition to the shallows of the Benham bank, where they discovered expansive coral reefs and biodiversity.

She said more expeditions were also conducted in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

“Apart from the massive coral reefs in the area, 200 species have been found and documented in the Philippine Rise,”Teh said.

The  presence of large apex predators in Benham bank such as sharks and barracudas was also discovered.

“Although only less than 10 percent of the Benham bank, mostly the shallowest portions has been assessed,  a number of habitats have already been discovered,”Teh said.

In 2018, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR announced that its Marine Geological Survey Division (MGSD) launched a geological expedition of the Philippine Rise.

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