Marcos gov’t urged to unlock oil and gas potential in West Philippine Sea

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a Senate resolution seeking to establish and eventually unlock the West Philippine Sea’s oil and gas potential.

Gatchalian, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, said the petroleum-rich West Philippine Sea would be able to address the country’s import dependence.

He said the Senate inquiry is intended to push exploration, development, and utilization of such oil and gas reserves toward achieving energy security and self-sufficiency.

“Given persistent global energy shocks, it is important for us to ascertain the oil and gas potential in the West Philippine Sea for the country to have some level of stability and protection from the tumultuous geopolitical conflict in foreign countries that has severely impacted local energy prices,” Gatchalian said.

He cited data from the Department of Energy (DOE) wherein the West Philippine Sea has an estimated 6,203 million barrels of total oil resources and 12,158 billion cubic feet of total gas resources in the West Philippine Sea as of 2021.

There are five petroleum service contracts located in the West Philippine Sea.
These are Service Contract 54 held by Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty Ltd. in Offshore Northwest Palawan, Service contract 58 held by Nido Petroleum in West Calamian or Northwest Palawan, Service Contract 59 held by the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. in Southwest Palawan, Service Contract 72 held by Forum (GSEC101) Ltd in Recto Bank, and Service Contract 75 held by PXP Energy Corp. in Northwest Palawan.

“The lack of oil and gas exploration and as a result of the lack of indigenous oil and gas have contributed to the country’s import dependence with 98 percent of petroleum products imported as of 2021 and lack of energy self-sufficiency,” Gatchalian said.

He said the country’s energy self-sufficiency has gone down from 61.4 percent in 2011 to 51.15 percent last year.

He said the Philippines, as an oil import-dependent country, was severely impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where global crude oil prices surged to $120 per barrel in March from $50 per barrel in January 2021.

Gatchalian said this resulted in an increase in gasoline pump prices from P50/liter to almost P90/liter in June this year.

Opec+ likely to maintain oil output levels

Major oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia and Russia look set to maintain their current output levels at a meeting Sunday, ahead of fresh sanctions against Moscow coming into force.