PHILIPPINE Ambassador to Moscow Carlos D. Sorreta said Russia has shown interest in exploring for energy resources in the West Philippine Sea, amid Philippine efforts to attract Russian investment in the energy sector.

Mr. Sorreta said Wednesday, according to a transcript provided by Malacañang, that the Russian authorities brought up the possibility of exploring the area for natural gas. “We’re looking beyond and we’re looking at Russia investing in our energy sector, setting up plants for natural gas,” he added.

He said, “(T)hey’re not a claimant (to the territory). If they come in, it’s really in full recognition of our sovereign rights and our right to explore or not to explore, to exploit, to not to exploit.”

“Russia is a exploration powerhouse… They’re in Africa, they’re in South America. They’re in Southeast Asia. They have the ability to drill under the most difficult conditions,” he said.

Other energy-related issues being considered with Russia include its possible participation the Philippines’ nuclear energy initiatives. Mr. Sorreta said preliminary talks are currently underway.

Mr. Sorreta said that the Philippines still needs to develop a policy that will govern the use of nuclear power. He added, “I hope there’s some move towards (developing) the policy and legal framework. Then… if we’re going to nuclear energy for power generation, we need to fix our research reactor.”

In the 17th Congress, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 8733, the proposed Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act, which will create a Philippine Nuclear Regulatory Commission (PNRC) and implement a national policy on the use of nuclear energy. This was passed on third and final reading. The Senate version of the bill was only passed at committee level.

The Philippines is also looking to attract Russian investment in other sectors such as agriculture sector and heavy industry.

“We’re trying to entice them to look at our available land to partner to produce agricultural products… the other thing is industry. They can help — they’re already exporting trucks, the two top brands from Russia are in the Philippines and we hope they will see… our capability to either build components or to assemble,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez