Philippines to resume South China Sea oil exploration after Duterte lifts moratorium

Philippines to resume South China Sea oil exploration after Duterte lifts moratorium

The Philippines’ energy minister said on Friday that the government’s move to lift a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea was a unilateral decision that China is expected to respect.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, in a virtual media briefing, also said he did not expect the move to affect a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on a possible joint development in the disputed waters as well as joint venture talks among exploration companies.President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday approved the lifting of the ban, which was imposed six years ago because of escalating territorial tensions with China.

Cusi said companies awarded contracts to explore for oil and gas in three sprawling areas off the western Philippines have been asked to resume their search operations, including in a potentially oil- and gas-rich region called Reed Bank.