Aquino backs gas project in Recto BankBy Christine O. Avendaño, Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—President Aquino said Monday the government was fully behind the gas exploration project being undertaken at the Recto Bank by businessman Manuel Pangilinan with a Chinese company as well as the latter’s bid to expand his foreign partners in the venture.
“Mr. Pangilinan will be undertaking the venture based on authorization coming from the Philippine government,” he said.
Aquino told reporters here that the gas exploration project being undertaken by Pangilinan’s Philex Petroleum Corp. with state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) was a major project that would need much financing.
“There will be a lot of finances that are needed and it is also incumbent upon him to source this financing,” the President said, adding that “so long as it complies with the terms and conditions as stipulated in the service contract, we have no issue with this venture.”
Over the weekend, Pangilinan said he planned to expand the consortium undertaking gas exploration at Recto Bank, which both the Philippines and China claim, to “internationalize” and “depoliticize” the concession area while boosting the financial and technological muscle for the project.
While Philex is preparing to work with CNOOC on the project, under an agreement that requires the approval of both the Philippine and the Chinese governments, Pangilinan, speaking on Thursday night in Hong Kong, said the project might be big enough to take in one or two more foreign partners.
Meantime, business tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. has also cleared the air with Pangilinan on the issue of having CNOOC as a strategic partner in the Recto Bank project, touted to have resources much bigger than that of the Malampaya gas field.
“As long as they’re genuine partners, whether Chinese, Japanese or Americans, it’s okay with us,” Razon said.
Razon said he had spoken to Pangilinan in the United States, where they joined the Philippine business delegation during President Aquino’s state visit.
In Congress, Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon has urged the government to adopt a moratorium on all negotiations with Chinese exploration companies for joint projects in disputed areas.
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