THE Department of Energy (DoE) has endorsed to the Office of the President the award of three new petroleum service contracts (PSC) in the West Philippine Sea.   

The DoE in a statement Friday gave no further details on the service contracts. 

It called such awards a “concrete and explicit” means of enforcing sovereign rights in line with the South China Sea arbitral award. 

“Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, petroleum licensing is the most important sovereign right of a coastal state like the Philippines,” the DoE said.  

In October, President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the DoE’s proposal to lift the moratorium on oil and gas activities in the West Philippine Sea and the resumption of all programmed work and financial plans in the disputed waters.  

The DoE said Service Contract (SC) 54 operated by Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty. Ltd.; SC 58 and SC 59 operated by PNOC Exploration Corp.; and SC 72 operated by Forum (GSEC101) Ltd. are all still in the process of drilling wells. It added that SC 75 operated by PXP Energy Corp. is in the stage of acquisition, processing, and interpretation of seismic data.   

“The indicated service contracts are all in the exploration stage. In the oil and gas industry, exploration activities include a thorough study and understanding of the geological and geophysical characteristics of the area, as well as the conduct of on-site survey and drilling activities,” the DoE said.  

“Due to the significant investment involved in carrying out exploration programs, on-site exploration activities are carefully planned to ensure the maximum coverage of data collection in the study area. Physical structures such as production platforms shall only be installed prior to the production of petroleum in commercial quantities,” it added. – Revin Mikhael D. Ochave