MVP: Bringing sea dispute to UN puts gas project at a standstill
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government's recent decision to elevate its sea dispute with China to a United Nations tribunal has put one business group's interests in the South China Sea (also West Philippine Sea) on ice.
"How long the postponement will be? We have no idea," said Manuel V. Pangilinan at a January 24 press conference of the US-Philippine Society, a non-government organization that he helped set up.
The Pangilinan-led Forum Energy has a 70% interest in the private consortium exploring potential oil and gas deposits at the Recto Bank located close to Palawan province west of the Philippines.
The Philippine government awarded Service Contract 72 (SC-72) in 2012 to the private consortium as part of efforts to assert sovereign rights over parts of the South China Sea (also West Philippine Sea). China, however, is claiming all of it.
Pangilinan has previously discussed a possible commercial deal with Chinese state oil company CNOOC, but those efforts have yet to bear fruit amid geopolitical friction between the two countries.
"The arbitration proceedings in the UN could take years -- 3? 4? or 10? I have no idea. I guess the natural question to ask is, will our governments -- both the Chinese government (and the Philippine government) -- allow CNOOC and ourselves to enter into commercial discussions. At this stage we don't know," said Pangilinan.
The Forum Energy-led consortium was supposed to conclude drilling work on Recto Bank project on or before August 13, 2013 but the possibility of meeting that deadline is now uncertain.
"It's not just a simple commercial matter…. It's been given to the UN so we just have to wait and see how things will turn out and wait for a directive from the government," said Pangilinan. - Rappler.com