China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of South China Sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim some parts of the Spratly Archipelago
Manila: The Philippines’ claims of a 13 million hectare northeast offshore gas area that is attached to the country’s continental shelf is pending at the United Nations, the approval of which will give the Philippines energy supply for local consumption and export, a senior official said.
“In mid 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf in New York will respond to the our claim of ownership of the 13 million hectare Benham Rise, an offshore plateau off the eastern seaboard of northern Luzon which is facing the Atlantic Ocean,” Environment Secretary Ramon told the Star.
“We believe there are substantial oil deposits anywhere (at the Benham Rise),” said Paje, adding the energy department is now preparing to issue contracts for exploration projects for natural gas in time for the UN’s approval.
“The Philippines is the only claimant of Benham Rise, located within the 200 nautical mile from the archiplagic baseline of the eastern seaboard of northern Luzon,” Paje said, adding the UN’s approval will give the Philippines a total of 43 million hectare of continental shelf for economic use.
The National Mapping Resource Information Agency and the energy department have confirmed the large deposits of methane in solid form at Benham Rise, said Paje, adding, “There are nodules of methane in the surface of Benham Rise.”
In 1933, an American geologist discovered an extinct volcanic ridge between 40 and 2,000 meters below the Philippine waterline. It was called Benham Rise after the surname of the American geologist.
In 2008, the Philippines has proven that it is within its continental shelf. Benham Rise is off Isabela and Aurora on the eastern side of northern Luzon.
On the other hand, the Malampaya deepwater gas field off Palawan in southwest Philippines, which is facing the South China Sea, is the country’s only active oil field.
The energy department has allowed ongoing oil exploration projects in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and the Recto (Reed Bank) on the South China Sea.
Although these areas are within the Philippines exclusive economic zone, or 200 nautical miles from its shore, based on the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China has questioned the country’s right to explore them.
They are located between Palawan, southwestern Philippines and the eight-island Kalayaan chain which is being claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly Archipelago.
China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of South China Sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim some parts of the Spratly Archipelago.