Sen. Win Gatchalian has asked for a Senate investigation into possible oil and gas reserves in the West Philippine Sea to find out if these could be developed and used to make the country energy secure and self-sufficient.

In a statement released on Sunday, he said he had filed a Senate resolution for the purpose, hoping for solutions to the nation’s problems with oil and gas importation.

Gatchalian said data from the Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that as of 2021, the West Philippine Sea’s (WPS) total oil and gas resources are expected to be 6,203 million barrels and 12,158 billion cubic feet, respectively.

He believes that given the “persistent global energy shocks”, it is important for the Philippines to make certain what oil and gas reserves it has in the WPS “to have some level of stability and protection from the tumultuous geopolitical conflict in foreign countries that has severely impacted local energy prices.”

Currently, he said there are 5 petroleum service contracts (SC) in the area — SC 54 held by Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty Ltd. in Offshore Northwest Palawan, SC 58 held by Nido Petroleum in West Calamian or Northwest Palawan, SC 59 held by the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. in Southwest Palawan, SC 72 held by Forum (GSEC101) Ltd in Recto Bank, and SC 75 held by PXP Energy Corp. in Northwest Palawan.

“The lack of oil and gas exploration and as a result of the lack of indigenous oil and gas have contributed to the country’s import dependence with 98% of petroleum products imported as of 2021 and lack of energy self-sufficiency,” Gatchalian noted.

“In fact, the country’s energy self-sufficiency has gone down from 61.4% in 2011 to 51.15% in 2021,” he added.

Gatchalian claims that the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine caused the price of crude oil to rise from $50 per barrel in January 2021 to USD120 per barrel in March 2022, demonstrating the negative effects of dependence on imported fuel.

Due to this, the price of gasoline at the pump rose from PHP50 per liter to almost PHP90 per liter in June 2022.

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