The Philippines resumes Oil and Gas Exploration in the South China Sea

#GS2 #International #GS3 #NaturalReources

  • The President of the Philippine, Rodrigo Duterte, approved the lifting of a six-year moratorium on oil exploration in Palawan Island.
  • The area where exploration would resume lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
  • The petroleum-related activities will resume in three offshore areas.

 

Background

  • The moratorium on oil exploration was imposed in 2014. It was imposed in the light of tensions between the Philippines and China because of their overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

 

China’s stand

  • China expressed that it hopes the two countries would cooperate for joint exploration in the future. Both the countries had reached a consensus on the joint development of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea and had also established a cooperation mechanism.

 

South China Sea

  • It is a marginal sea in the Western Pacific Ocean. The sea is enclosed in the north by the shores of South China,  in the west by the Indochinese Peninsula, in the east by the islands of Taiwan and the northwestern Philippines while in the south by Borneo, eastern Sumatra, and the Bangka Belitung Islands. 
  • It connects to the East China Sea through the Taiwan Strait, connects to the Philippine Sea through the Luzon Strait while to the Sulu Sea through the straits around Palawan. It also connects the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca. The Java Sea connects to it through the Karimata and Bangka Strait.

 

Significance

  • The region has huge economic and geostrategic importance. It gives passes to the One-third of the world’s maritime shipping through it. Thus, the region encompasses over the US $3 trillion trade each year. The region has huge reserves of oil and natural gas beneath its seabed. It also comprises lucrative fisheries that ensures food security in Southeast Asia for many.

 

South China Sea Dispute

  • Many countries have made territorial claims over the South China Sea and so the dispute in the region is regarded as Asia’s most dangerous point of conflict. China and Taiwan claim the entire region as their own by demarcating their claims within the nine-dotted line. Other claims include:
  • Indonesia, China, and Taiwan claim the waters NE of the Natuna Islands
  • The Philippines, China, and Taiwan claim over Scarborough Shoal.
  • Vietnam, China, and Taiwan have disputes over waters west of the Spratly Islands.
  • All of the islands are also disputed between Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
  • The Paracel Islands is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
  • Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam claim the areas in the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Singapore and Malaysia claim the Strait of Johore and the Strait of Singapore.
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