Philippine gas field in China-claimed sea ‘bigger’
MANILA, Philippines—A Philippine oil company said Wednesday its gas field – in a section of the West Philippine Se (South China Sea) also claimed by Beijing – could be nearly twice as big as the Philippines’ largest known deposits.
Philex Petroleum said estimates of the Sampaguita field reserves had been upgraded to 4.66 trillion cubic feet (TCF), from a previous estimate of 3.4 TCF.
On Tuesday Manila said it was hoping to help secure its energy supplies by developing the field, with Energy Secretary Rene Almendras saying he hoped “its big resources will help us face the need for energy in the future.”
But the field is at Reed Bank, about 148 kilometers (92 miles) off the Philippine island of Palawan, where last year Manila accused Chinese vessels of harassing an exploration vessel.
The Philex announcement came amid a continuing standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships around Scarborough Shoal, another West Philippine Sea outcropping that is subject to conflicting claims by both countries.
Manila has said both Reed Bank and Scarborough Shoal are well within its maritime territory but Beijing, which claims almost all of the West Philippine Sea, disputes this.
The Sampaguita field is near Royal Dutch Shell’s Malampaya, the Philippines’ largest gas field, which provides fuel to power Luzon, the country’s main island, and has estimated reserves of 2.7 TCF.
Citing a release Tuesday by its UK-based subsidiary Forum Energy, Philex said the total reserves at Reed Bank could be as high as 16.6 TCF of gas and 416 million barrels of oil.
In a speech before Congress last year, Philippine President Benigno Aquino vowed to defend the country’s claim to Reed Bank.
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