Gov’t shelves seismic survey on Spratlys area
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Energy is no longer keen on pushing through with a proposed seismic survey over the Reed Bank and the disputed areas in the Kalayaan Island Group as the project continues to remain on hold, according to Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras.
Almendras was referring to the proposed 2D seismic acquisition and processing over the area.
The energy chief deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs, explaining that since the P75-million seismic survey concerned areas that were contested and claimed by neighboring countries, discussions should be within the foreign affairs level.
The DoE, under the Arroyo administration, wanted to pursue the planned data acquisition within the first quarter of 2010, under the “Philippine National Continental Shelf Delimitation project.” The energy department had then stressed that the seismic data to be acquired would be submitted to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
The data would supposedly help define the country’s 150-mile Extended Continental Shelf (ECS), where much of the valuable resources are located. The Reed Bank alone is estimated to contain at least 3.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and potentially 440 million barrels of oil.
By December 2009, the DoE had shortlisted four international contractors to undertake a 2D seismic acquisition and processing, namely the Singapore-based PGS Asia Pacific, CGG Veritas, Norway-based Fugro Geo-Team AS, and United Kingdom’s Geraldine Geosurvey Ltd.
“The seismic, gravity and magnetics data shall be owned solely by the DoE, archived at the DoE and be for the exclusive use of the Philippine ECS project. All data shall not be made available for licensing to oil and gas exploration and production companies,” the DoE stressed.
Parts of the Reed Bank and Kalayaan Island Group were earlier studied under the controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU), an agreement that the Philippines had signed with China and Vietnam to search for oil in the Spratlys.
The tripartite JMSU, which took effect in 2005 and expired in 2008, was only intended to find out how much oil and other resources lie at the bottom of the disputed islands.
Almendras added that there were no plans of reviving the JMSU.
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