Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto backed plans for the Philippines to jointly prospect for oil in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) with “China and other countries” for as long as it is “between private parties and that we won’t be giving away the deed to the area.”
Recto said energy exploration in the WPS must be under “a constitutionally-compliant win-win arrangement.”
He noted that gas and oil hunts are usually joint ventures among countries, citing the Malampaya gas field off Palawan, which is a collaboration among Philippine, Dutch and British firms.
“Kung hindi China, mayroon naman talagang foreign na partner – kung hindi Amerikano, mga Europeans, kasi sila ang may technology at capital,” the veteran legislator said.
“Hindi dapat cross-country rule ang invitation. Open it to all,” the seasoned lawmaker added.
The senator from Batangas said the search for domestic sources of fossil fuel becomes more urgent with the projected end of Malampaya’s production by 2024.
“If Malampaya, which supplies 45 percent of Luzon’s power, runs out of natural gas in six years, then the search for ways to secure our energy future becomes urgent,” Recto said.
“We have a growing energy appetite to satiate. We are buying close to half a million vehicles a year. In five years, we will be adding 8 million to our population, each of whom will consume electricity, from charging cellphones to watching TV,” he added.
Piped in from an offshore platform, Malampaya gas fuels three base load power plants in Batangas with a capacity of 2,700 megawatts (MW).
The plants provide 40% to 50% of the energy needs of “the 57 million people living in the world’s 4th most populous island,” Recto said.
This specter of energy starvation is what should drive the renewed hunt for new gas and oil fields within our seas.
While energy officials and the gas field’s driller have assured that a combination of measures will stretch Malampaya’s life to 2029, “it has been conceded that output will drop in 2024,” he explained. “This specter of energy starvation is what should drive the renewed hunt for new gas and oil fields within our seas,” Recto added.
“We are a few years away from a zero dark hour. Kaya kailangan maging bold and innovative tayo sa paghanap ng pagkukunan ng enerhiya, pero sa isang paraan na hindi tayo lugi, at hindi natin ipinamimigay ang sadyang atin,” the senator further said.