The Philippines and China are looking at areas of cooperation in the energy sector outside the West Philippine Sea dispute, according to Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla.
“I can tell you I have discussions with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China on different aspects of cooperation in the energy sector, and that’s not only limited to the West Philippine Sea issue,” Lotilla said.
Lotilla said the Department of Energy was also in talks with Chinese companies for possible investments in renewable energy.
The energy chief said Chinese firms visited the DOE for possible investments in offshore wind, solar and other technologies.
Lotilla said the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President were taking the lead regarding the West Philippine Sea issue, with the DOE in close coordination.
He said the agency was working with concerned parties regarding the prospects of developing service contracts in the West Philippine Sea.
“These are in the delicate stages of negotiation and therefore, best we leave it to the President and DFA to talk about this on this topic,” he said.
“We continue to encourage the exploration and development in all areas of the country, and we hope there will be other movements on this as well, which are not necessarily tied to negotiations or ongoing talks between China and the Philippines,” Lotilla said.
The Marcos administration wants to revive investor interest in oil and gas exploration in the country, which has been lagging compared to other countries in the ASEAN.
The Philippines ranked 9th among ASEAN countries in terms of exploratory drilling, according to the 2021 IHS report.
“We are also looking at the areas that are clearly undisputed. And we are looking at the near fields around Malampaya. And that’s why the President has indicated that he wants to have all legal and policy issues that have been a sword of Damocles over investments in the upstream, clarified fully,” Lotilla said.
Lotilla said the Cabinet was addressing the desire of the President, “to make sure that the investment climate and the legal environment for the investment in the upstream becomes absolutely clear.”