RP, China and Vietnam in Oil Exploration Deal
Byline: JAMES A. LOYOLA
The Philippines, through Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), has formally entered into a tripartite agreement with China and Vietnam to conduct pre-exploration studies for oil and gas resources in the South China Sea, including the disputed Spratley Islands.
PNOC signed the agreement with its counterparts China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation (Petroviet-nam).
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo immediately hailed as a "diplomatic breakthrough" the tripartite marine venture among three claimant-countries in the South China Sea in lessening the tension in the region as well as forging alliances on energy security.
In a speech at the awarding of outstanding electric cooperatives in Malacanang, Mrs. Arroyo said the joint research study is a first concrete step in implementing the provisions of 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea "to turn the area into an area of cooperation rather than an area of conflict."
"Not only is it a diplomatic breakthrough for peace and security in the region, it is also a breakthrough for our energy independence program because one of the elements of this program is to work on strategic alliances with our friends and allies so that we can have more supply of energy for the region and our country," she said.
The three parties will conduct a joint research of petroleum resource potential in the Agreement Area as a pre-exploration activity in accordance with the approved seismic work programs.
The three parties stressed that the agreement "will not undermine the basic position held by their respective governments on the South China Sea and will contribute to the transformation of the South China Sea into an area of peace, stability, cooperation and development in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2002 ASEANChina Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. …