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Paje: PHL should explore seas for oil, natural gas

THE Philippines should start looking into the vast potentials of the ocean within its 240-million hectare exclusive economic zone (EEZ) starting with an accounting of what natural resources it holds underneath, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said.

While other countries have been very busy exploring for oil and natural gas outside their EEZ, the country has barely touched its own waters, Paje said, referring to the potential bounty underneath the waves beyond the 15-kilometer municipal waters.

“In terms of space, the country’s EEZ is more than seven times its land area.  The potential is so big,” he said.

The DENR chief said the government should consider public-private partnerships for more offshore oil and natural-gas exploration.

There are several ongoing oil and gas explorations in the country in the Sulu-Sulawesi seas, he said, but these are only very small fraction of what the country should undertake.

The Department of Energy is mandated to manage the country’s natural wealth, such as the processing and approval for oil and gas exploration.

“We have to know more [about] what we have.  You cannot manage something that you cannot count, you cannot value or you cannot account for. You cannot manage something that you cannot measure. The government can privatize,” he said.

“There should be a thorough evaluation, a thorough accounting [of natural wealth],” he said.

While saying the risk may be high, exploring oil and gas underneath the vast ocean is worth looking into to boost the country’s energy security, citing the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power project.

The project employs state-of-the-art deepwater technology to draw natural gas from deep beneath the ocean within Philippine waters. The indigenous gas extracted from Malampaya fuels three natural gas-fired power stations with a total generating capacity of 2,700 megawatts to provide 40 percent to 45 percent of Luzon’s power-generation requirements.

“There should be a thorough accounting of our natural wealth, using non-invasive technologies,” he said. Non-invasive technologies, he said, is now available to ensure minimum damage to marine ecosystem.

He also suggested the conduct of hydrocarbon mapping to determine anomalies—to pinpoint and measure mineral deposits underneath the earth in the vast ocean without unnecessarily disturbing or causing damage to the marine environment.

Paje attended the recently-concluded Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) held from April 22 to 24 in Washington, D.C., organized by the World Ocean Council.

SOS is an international conference attended by policy-makers and executives from different parts of the world that distinguish themselves as leaders in ocean stewardship and sustainability.

 

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