PH may soon own a huge and rich undersea

The Philippines may soon be the owner of an underwater land bigger than Luzon that is potentially wealthy in gas and oil.

It has the possibility that it can suffice the gas and oil need of the country in the future.

During the Senate finance committee’s hearing on the proposed 2012 budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Secretary Ramon Paje said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) may approve the Philippines’ claim over Benham Rise by mid-2012.

Benham Rise is located at the country’s eastern seaboard beside Aurora and Isabela provinces, It is an extinct volcanic ridge with an area of 13 million hectares.

Paje said it is rich in solid methane and probably even oil, based on initial studies of the DENR.

“We’ve been saying this in the past. This country can provide for its own energy,” he told reporters after the hearing. “We believe that with the deposits we can find in Benham Rise, we can substantially provide power in the country.”

Paje added that Benham Rise has enough deposits to enable the country to export gas.

Once the UNCLOS approves the Philippines’ claim, he said the Philippine government may start exploring the area, like what is being done at the Malampaya deepwater gas field off Palawan.

“That will now provide the legal basis for the entry or execution of exploration agreements with private companies,” said finance committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon.

The Philippines submitted its application for ownership of Benham Rise to the UNCLOS in late 2008.

Unlike the Spratly islands in the West Philippine Sea, no other country claims Benham Rise

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