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Mayaman naman sila: Atienza sees China paying for $7.5B cost of joint gas exploration in WPS

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Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza is seeing a win-win scenario if the Philippines and China will conduct a joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Atienza said the Philippines is counting on China to advance the bulk of the estimated $7.5-billion cost of a new natural gas project in the South China Sea under a proposed joint exploration and development agreement.

“This is the reason why we are bringing the Chinese in – for them to shoulder the cost – because we simply do not have the wherewithal to develop a second deep-water gas field there,” he said.

“Everybody is convinced that we have vast gas deposits in the West Philippine Sea Basin. The only problem is where to drill the wells precisely in order to hit the biggest reservoir,” he added.

President Duterte earlier proposed a “60-40” sharing deal with China as the two countries began crafting a cooperation framework to jointly search for oil and gas in the disputed territory.

“There’s nothing wrong with giving the Chinese a 40-percent share, especially if they will advance the full cost of the project,” Atienza said.

“In fact, we gave the Dutch and the British 45 percent, and the Americans another 45 percent in Malampaya,” he added, referring to the country’s first offshore gas project located some 65 kilometers northwest of Palawan.

Royal Dutch Shell plc and Chevron Corp. each effectively have a 45 percent stake in Malampaya, with the Philippine National Oil Corp. keeping 10 percent.

Atienza noted that a second offshore gas project, this time with China, would go a long way in reducing the Philippines’ dependence on imported fuel and shielding Filipinos against future oil price shocks.

“There’s really no telling where crude oil prices will be years from now. It could be $100 again, possibly even $200 per barrel. So we have to brace ourselves by producing more gas,” he said.

“We have to be forward-looking when it comes to our energy requirements, considering that Malampaya’s gas reserves won’t last forever,” he added.