Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Philippine untapped oil deposits estimated at $26.3 trillion

Philippine untapped oil deposits estimated at $26.3 trillion 
By Ben Cal 

MANILA, Philippines- The Philippines is virtually “sitting on a mountain of gold,” with untapped hydrocarbon deposits estimated at $26.3 trillion, mostly found in the disputed Spratly chain of islands, more than enough to free the country from the shackles of poverty. The oil deposits have been there for decades, yet they have remained untouched if at all a thousand barrels of production a day. This is sad because the this natural resources could have been tapped for the country economic development.

Retired Brig. Gen. Eldon G. Nemenzo, a pilot and former deputy commander of the 3rd Air Division of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) based in Zamboanga City, made a thorough research as his thesis when he took the advanced course at the Command and Staff College of the PAF in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City when he was still in the active service.
He is that the vast oil reserves of the Philippines found in various parts of the archipelago, specifically the Reed Bank, the largest of them all, and the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands called by the Philippines as the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).
“The Philippines is like a blind beggar sitting on a mountain of gold. Within the country’s 200-mile Exclu¬sive Economic Zone (EEZ) are potential recoverable hydrocarbon deposits worth an estimated US$26.3 trillion. More than enough to lift the country from the centuries long morass of poverty and underdevelopment,” Nemenzo said.
The huge untapped oil deposits have in the country may have attracted other nations like China and the United States to this God-given mineral. In fact China has been aggressive constructing infrastructures in the Spratly apparently to lay claim on these contested chain of islands claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Chinese Coast Guard ships have been trying to intercept Philippine Navy ships carrying supplies for Filipino troops stationed on board a dilapidated World War II ship in the middle of the sea waters of the Spratly.

Nemenzo found out that the amount of hydrocarbon deposits in the country could be more than $26.3 trillion following the recent discovery of oil reserves in the Sulu-Celebes Sea which is within Philippine territory.
“But no sensible foreign investor would come in, because the government cannot guarantee a climate of security to underwrite their invest¬ments,” he pointed out.
The data Nemenzo gathered was supported by findings from other sources, including a report by China’s Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources, that the oil deposits in the Spratlys could reach 17.1 billion barrels.
This is more than the 13 billion barrels of oil deposits of Kuwait, one of the world’s top oil producers.
The Spratly issue has become a flashpoint following the discovery of oil underneath the sea in the ‘70s.
Tension has bubbled anew be¬tween the Philippines and China when Chinese fishing vessels were spotted at the Scarborough or Pana¬tag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea early this month.
The Philippines is claiming own¬ership of the Spratly islands, along with China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
In 1978, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree 1596 incorporating some islands of the Kalayaan to strengthen Philip¬pine claim over these mineral-rich islands.
Aside from oil, natural gas, min¬erals and polymetals such as gold, silver, iron and nickel are found under the sea - the Spratly is a rich fishing ground.
During the interview, Nemenzo stressed the need to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly by acquiring multi-role fighters (MRF) to defend the country’s airspace and sea lanes.
He also cited the need for Filipino technocrats to be at the forefront as managers in running business con¬glomerates entered into between the Philippines and foreign companies drilling for oil in the Philippines.
“We should not be left in the dark in managing our resources,” Nem¬enzo said.
Last April 8, eight Chinese fishing vessels were spotted by Philippine Navy ships anchored inside the Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal).
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) insists that Bajo de Masinloc “is an integral part of the Philippine territory. It is part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Philippine Continental Shelf.”
Bajo de Masinloc's chain of reefs and rocks is about 124 nautical miles from the nearest coast of Luzon and 472 NM from the nearest coast of China. It is also also within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone and 200 NM Continental Shelf of the Philippines.
One of the earliest known and most accurate maps of the area, named Carta Hydrographical y Chorographica De Las Yslas Filipinas by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, S.J., and published in 1734, included Bajo de Masinloc as part of Zam¬bales, according to the DFA.
In 1792, another map drawn by the Alejandro Malaspina expedition and published in 1808 in Madrid, Spain, also showed Bajo de Masin¬loc as part of Philippine territory,” it said. “This map showed the route of the Malaspina expedition to and around the shoal. It was reproduced in the Atlas of the 1939 Philippine Census.”
“The Mapa General, Islas Filipi¬nas, Observatorio de Manila pub¬lished in 1990 by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, also included Bajo de Masinloc as part of the Philippines,” the Department of foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
At this point in time, it is tragic to note that the Philippines has a weak Air Force and Navy. It may be recalled that shortly after World War II until the .70s, the Philippine Air Force was second to none in terms of firepower with squadrons of F-5s, F-86, F-8 supersonic fighter planes ready to intercept. But twist of events, the PAF has no single jet fighter since 2005. The same awkward position is being experienced by the Philippine Navy, no modern warship or a missile gunboat to speak of.
It is time to modernize our defense capability now not tomorrow because we are left behind in our defense modernization.

No comments: