Philippines to sign exploration deal with Israeli oil company

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will sign an oil exploration agreement with an Israeli oil company before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his 4-day Israel visit.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced that on Tuesday, September 4, the government is expected to sign a deal with Ratio Petroleum Limited, allowing the company to explore for oil resources in an area east of Palawan.

"We expect that an agreement on exploration between the Philippines and a company here in Israel will be signed. This is Ratio Petroleum Limited and this is in connection with round number 5PECR5 with an area for east of Palawan base," said Roque.

He was speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem.

Roque added that the deal will be signed on Tuesday. He did not elaborate on the more technical aspects of the agreement.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who is also in Israel with Duterte, has kept busy the past few days attending to the signing.

Ratio Petroleum, according to its website, owns significant deep-water petroleum rights in Israel, including over the Leviathan natural gas reservoir. 

Duterte is set to witness the signing of documents by Israeli and Filipino businessmen at a hotel in Jerusalem. One Israeli company, however, decided to boycott the event to protest Duterte's presence in the Holy Land.

Duterte's visit has outraged many Israelis, especially Jews who still feel offended by the Philippine leader's comparison of himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in September 2016. 

Roque said the sentiment from NUFilteration Ltd founder and CEO Mino Negrin is "truly regrettable" but remained confident about the number of Israeli businessmen who will attend the forum 

"We think that the Philippines is one of the best investment destinations but we will see later that it will be standing room only for the business forum," said Duterte's spokesman.

He also gave assurances that foreign investors' interest in the Philippines "remains at an all time high." – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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