Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi bared Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte had approved their recommendation to lift the suspension of petroleum activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“I thank the President for approving the DOE recommendation. We need to explore so we may address the country’s energy security. With the impending depletion of our natural gas reserve in Malampaya, it is the department’s position that there is an urgent imperative to resume exploration, development, and production activities within our EEZ to ensure continuity of supply of indigenous resources in the country,” said Cusi.

Under the Department of Energy Act of 1992 (RA 7638), the DOE has the authority to regulate the exploration of the country’s indigenous energy resources.

Cusi added that the DOE had issued a “Resume-to-Work” to service contractors doing petroleum-related activities in the areas of SC 59, 72, and 75 in the West Philippine Sea, which are all suspended on the ground of “force majeure” due to the still ongoing dispute in the territory.

SCs 59 and 72 are operated by the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) and Forum Ltd., respectively, while SC 75 is under PXP Energy Corporation’s control.

The DOE chief also underscored that the lifting of the suspension will infuse the economy with fresh foreign direct investments and generate high-skills jobs, both of which are needed to boost economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The lifting of the suspension places the service contractors under a legal obligation to put capital into the contract areas and hire Filipino engineers and technical workers to resume exploration,” he added.

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