The Philippines government on Friday lifted the moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea amid talks with China over the disputed region.
Philippines had stopped drilling in the disputed waters in 2014, however, President Rodrigo Duterte began talks with China two years ago to jointly explore in the South China Sea.
“Now that the moratorium is lifted, I’m sure that will expedite the discussions,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “China hoped it could work together with the Philippines in jointly developing energy projects in the South China Sea.”
“China and the Philippines have reached consensus on the joint development of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea and have established a cooperation mechanism for relevant consultations,” Zhao Lijian added.
“I hope and believe that the two sides will meet each other halfway, promote joint development, and continue to make positive progress,” he said.
Energy secretary Cusi said that three projects could resume while expressing confidence that local companies could proceed without any obstruction from China.
“The lifting of the suspension will help prime up our economy,” Cusi said, adding it would “help in generating investments” amid the coronavirus pandemic which has hit the Philippines economy.